A small publisher in Guelph hopes a book project can raise big dollars for Hospice Wellington, Guelph’s much praised palliative care facility. Lisa Browning has a deeply personal reason for wanting to help Hospice.
She is looking for true, personal and uplifting stories rich in hope, faith and the miraculous, which will be published in a book and given to hospice as a fundraising tool.
Browning started her company One Thousand Trees out of her home about six years ago as a way to share inspiring, healing stories, and help local charities. She also has a full-time day job in management at the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre, headquartered in Guelph.
At the time she launched the publishing venture she was engaged in a fairly overwhelming amount of charity work, so much so that the work became overwhelming. She curtailed her activity, but still wanted to support the charitable culture she believed so strongly in.
“I thought I had to find a way to give back, because this is part of what I am,” she said. “I started with the online magazine. I was getting a bunch of awesome articles from people, and that lead me to think about doing an anthology of empowerment stories.”
She publishes the online magazine “One Thousand Trees,” as well as “Sharing,” a publication dedicated to empowerment. Other projects forthcoming from her include “Metamorphosis,” stories, including her own, related to freeing oneself from abusive relationships, and “Two Saplings,” a series of publications that support local charities while fostering creativity and literacy in children.
Once word got out that there was a new, independent publisher in town, requests and submissions started rolling in. She has published the stories of a number of authors.
“It took on a life of its own,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like work for me, because it’s my passion. I work for hours and don’t realize the time has gone by.”
Last year, Browning’s 94-year-old father, Jack Tripp, took ill and declined rapidly. Within a short time, he was near the end of his life and needed palliative care. On a Monday, an application was made for admittance to Hospice Wellington. Her father was admitted the following day.
“You walk into that place and the stress just falls off you,” she said. “The incredible care that he got, that we got, made it so much easier. Their being there for us made all the difference. He was treated with such dignity.”
Browning considered making a financial contribution to Hospice, but decided instead to make a gesture of support that gave her an ongoing connection to the end-of-life health care provider. Hospice is a provide compassionate care, emotional support and practical assistance to those facing a life-threatening illness. It serves about 250 residents each year.
“I talked to them about doing this book of stories of hope and they were thrilled to do that,” she said. “I’m covering all publishing costs and just handing them over a quantity of books to sell.”
Browning hopes to get 52 story submissions for the book – one reading each week of the year. She has received about 35 submissions or expressions of interest in making a submission to the project. She is looking for more.
The submissions she has received so far are uplifting.
“They’re short, little stories, about 500 words maximum,” she said “And they are awesome.”
Beverly Trist-Stewart is the director of fund development for Hospice. She said Browning’s fundraising idea is unique and much appreciated.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Trist-Stewart. “To be able to work with a publisher and author doesn’t happen very often. This is just a great opportunity for people to really share some of their personal moments, and she can bring them to life again.”
While the book project is a novel fundraising idea, Trist-Stewart said it is quite common for families to want to give back to the organization after it has help them through a difficult time.
“It feels like it is part of the healing cycle,” she said. “What they need to go through is to come back to us and somehow express that they’ve appreciated the support and care. It is almost like they are coming back to home and family, and they just want to help.”
Once the book is ready, Hospice will take on the role of marketing it and will retain all the proceeds. There is the potential to raise thousands of dollars.
Browning said the raison d’etre of One Thousand Trees is to “facilitate wellness through connection, creativity and community service,” and to empower others to “tell their story and speak their truth.”