Originally Published: July 29, 2013 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - It's been a busy couple of weeks for the folks at the Coalition for Compassion and Justice. In fact, it's rare they're not busy. Last week, the group offered the Fair Start program, in which they handed out backpacks and school supplies to area students. This week they're raising money for a special Kickstarter campaign.
In 2012, CCJ distributed more than 1,000 packs to children in the tri-city area as part of Fair Start. The packs, filled with back to school supplies, are given to low-income families, Iverson said.
A limited number of computers also will be distributed free to needy families.
"This year we have a set of volunteers that take old computers and refurbish them. So we're making those available to students so they can have access to email and write their papers," said CCJ director for development Michael Dummeyer.
The family of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot Travis Turbyfill also is working with CCJ for the Turbyfill Wellness Fund, he said.
"The family wants to remember Travis by starting a wellness fund. One of the embodiments of that is going to be the Travis Turbyfill Wellness Assessment that we will be doing. Students will get their eyes checked, basically an assessment for their bill of health in going forward. We hope to start raising funds to provide vaccinations and different health care costs and needs for low-income individuals as a way of remembering him. It's still being developed with the family," Dummeyer said.
Advocacy and education for people living in poverty counts as one of CCJ's main goals, he added. As part of that mission, author and artist Diane Iverson, director of special projects for CCJ, has written and illustrated a children's book for the organization. She's hoping to publish her latest title, "When I Dream," via a Kickstarter campaign. The book tells the story of a little girl who lives in the back of a vehicle with her mother, but dreams of bigger things. Iverson currently has 18 books in print.
On Sunday, CCJ representatives held a Kickstarter party at 'Tis Gallery to spread the word about the project. Iverson spoke about the book during the party and showed illustrations from the project.
"We're asking people to help us support the publishing of that book, so we can educate the public about childhood homelessness, so people will have the tools to breach the subject with a child about what it means to be homeless and make a difference. Going forward we think it will be a really great asset to the community to have a book like that," Dummeyer said.
Proceeds from the book will be used for CCJ's Open Door and other programs, Iverson said.
"The primary function of the book, I think, is it allows us to advocate for our clients, children in particular. The book is about a little girl who is homeless. She's about 6 years old. It's about her dreams. She's living in a car with her mom, but she dreams about living in a castle, dreams about having a big fancy canopy bed that's magic. She has a horse, and she has so much food to eat she doesn't know what to do with it. In her dreams, food, shelter and security are provided for her in abundance. But when she wakes up, she's in the back of a car with mom. They discuss that dream and how important it is to honor our dreams and work toward our dreams. It's not a depressing book at all. It's a hopeful, and kind of playful, book," Iverson said.
As part of the project, Iverson has until July 31 to raise the $28,500 for publication of the book. She's currently raised over $13,000 for the project, but only has until Wednesday, when the project ends. Visit them online by visiting www.kickstarter.com and searching "When I Dream."
Visit CCJ online at www.yavapaiccj.org.
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier.