There are many different reasons to write a book.
Perhaps you’re a subject matter expert who wants to share knowledge. Or maybe you’re passionate about a cause and want to promote your beliefs among the wider public. Or perhaps you have experienced something so profound that you feel compelled to share those meaningful experiences.
I have always considered myself a student.
My life has been one long lesson in learning. That is what moved me to begin writing a book more than two decades ago.
It gives me great pleasure to share my personal journey and detail the beginnings of New Community in my memoir titled “Out of the Ashes Came Hope.” It is the thread of hope that weaves together my story. With the help of co-author Gilda Rogers, I desired to write down the story of how God led me to the extraordinary people who would help build a new community that would come to be known by three white letters, circumscribed within a little green house: NCC.
Before those green and white emblems began to dot Newark’s Central Ward, there were many late night discussions, battles fought in Trenton, sweat poured and fervent prayers prayed. Many people wanted to see the dream of New Community grow wings and take flight.
One of the first people that I was privileged to meet was Joe Chaneyfield. Back then, I was a newly minted priest and Joe liked to joke and call me “Padre.” We forged a bond in the trenches—figuratively in the work of community development as well as literally in digging the sewer line behind Queen of Angels—and our bond was as brothers.
I admired and benefited from Paul Ylvisaker, an urban planner and educator who encouraged me to pursue graduate studies. As the state’s first commissioner of Community Affairs, Paul possessed a great deal of knowledge and also championed the issues important to New Community. His expertise greatly assisted us as a nascent community development corporation with grand visions to provide housing, childcare, healthcare and workforce development.
Madge Wilson, a board member of New Community, has enthusiasm that is simply boundless. Her service expanded from Babyland to areas such as serving homeless veterans and nursing home residents. Just recently Madge was honored as Volunteer of the Year by the Health Care Association of New Jersey, a well-deserved award.
Out of the ashes, these individuals and others brought hope to a seemingly hopeless Central Ward. My hope is that this book will help elevate your perspective on the power of hope. Because hope is the most spontaneous prayer that exists.