AWEARNESS by Kenneth Cole: Inspiring Stories About How to Make a Difference

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"If someone says, 'I really want to serve humanity,' I'd say, 'Tell me what your dreams are. Tell me something in your childhood that you wished were different and go toward it."
--Rosie O'Donnell, AWEARNESS

Feeling blue? I've got the book to cheer you up--AWEARNESS: Inspiring Stories about How to Make a Difference by Kenneth Cole. It's my favorite read so far this year. Whether you are a college graduate, recently unemployed, or just want to figure out how to use your skills to make a difference, I think AWEARNESS will inspire you.

The collection of essays by changemakers (lots are celebrities) is organized by cause: political activism, human rights, civil liberties, homelessnes and poverty, well-being, HIV/AIDS, criminal justice, the environment, youth and education, and volunteerism. At the end of each section is a list of organizations related to each cause area, and ideas for how to give your time, expertise, dollars, and stuff to support the cause.

I was excited to see that Cristi Hegranes of the Press Institute for Women in the Developing World, who I interviewed in early 2008, was included in the Political Activism chapter.

The Youth and Education chapter was my personal favorite. The section's 12 essays include a conversation with John Sykes (VH1 Save the Music Foundation) and Barry Manilow (Manilow Fund for Health and Hope), "On Why Music Education Matters," as well as pieces by Invisible Children filmmakers, "On Youth Helping Youth," April Dinwoodie (AdoptMent), "On Mentoring Foster Children," and Rachel Ray (Yum-o!) "On Kids and Nutrition."

I also liked Pulitzer prize-winning author Dr. Robert Coles' advice in the Volunteerism section about how to avoid, "the dangers of smugness and self-importance that can come upon a person who sees himself as reaching out to others." He writes, "try to avoid all such moral and psychological hazards by a little bit of introspection--inquire into yourself, even as you try to learn about and be of help to others."

Each essay is a quick read. Perfect for 15 minutes of reading before you start your day, or before going to bed at night. Check out the AWEARNESS blog and AWEARNESS Twitter feed too for your daily dose of AWEARNESS.

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BlogHer Contributing Editor, Britt Bravo, also blogs at Have Fun * Do Good and is a Big Vision Consultant

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