A couple of months ago my friend Kasey began working at Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee. She was immediately head-over-heels in love with the place, so naturally my interest was piqued. I signed up to volunteer, went to orientation and was quickly enamored with The Village. I did a couple of random volunteer shifts–delivering pizzas, snapping pictures, decorating for Christmas–and landed on the weekly opportunity to work in Guest Services. I volunteer every Wednesday evening and help by greeting new families, checking them in and showing them to their home for the week. I LOVE it. Love, love love it. If you’ve never heard of Give Kids The World, you’ve got to check out their website. If you are local, or even in town visiting, you’ve got to get over there and see it for yourself.
So…after Kasey was offered a job there, a friend of hers recommended reading Gift of Life by Henri Landwirth. I’ve never seen her read a book so fast! I knew I had to read it for myself. Last week, I took a break from school reading and picked up Gift of Life. Once I picked it up, I could barely put it down. I think I read it in about two and a half days.
Henri Landwirth is the founder of Give Kids The World, and his book is a sort of autobiography chronicling his life and the beginnings of The Village. His story is absolutely incredible. I don’t want to give it all away, but he begins by recounting a horrific account of his survival of the Holocaust. While no one would dare describe this part of the book as “good,” I was absolutely glued to his story. I remember learning about the Holocaust in school (like every good high schooler), but reading a first hand account of his experience made it SO real. After reading it, I am convinced people have to continue telling the horrible stories of that time so that history does not repeat itself.
The second part of the book chronicles his trip to America and his time in the hotel industry. He formed amazing relationships with the early astronauts as well as people like Walter Cronkite. He recognizes God’s work in his life, and often refers to the “miracles” that God did. The final section of the book tells the story of Give Kids The World Village.
I would certainly recommend this book. Even if you care less about the beginnings of this great organization, it’s worth the read for the first hand account of the Holocaust. All proceeds from the book go straight to Give Kids The World, so your reading will also help a worthwhile organization. 🙂