OLD SAYBROOK — Before the Madison-based Raise the Roof helped Edwin and Ada Sanchez build a home in Fair Haven Heights last June, their family was confined to a New Haven apartment, which they’d rented for 20 years.
“I feel great,” Edwin Sanchez told the ShoreLine Times. “I can’t wait until the house gets done. I’m so happy, I don’t know what to say.”
To benefit Raise the Roof, so that more families can enjoy that same exhilaration — as well as the stability and security — of owning a home, Madison’s R.J. Julia Booksellers is sponsoring “Building Your Voice,” an inaugural presentation of acclaimed authors reading their own words at The Kate on Sunday, May 5.
The event will be hosted by NPR radio personality Chion Wolf.
Over the last 16 years, Raise the Roof has raised more than $700,000 and worked alongside Habitat families to build 14 new homes in New Haven.
Standing tall through hardship, it seems, is the thread that unites the works of the three acclaimed authors who will take the stage. That’s not a coincidence, according to Madison architect Duo Dickinson, who’s been active in Raise the Roof initiatives and volunteered his time to produce the “Spoken Word” series at The Kate.
“The community supported by Raise the Roof has been on the edge of survival for 40 years, actually saving itself and keeping itself viable,” he told the ShoreLine Times. “The spoken word in performance reflects our humanity just like the need for having our own home.”
Take decorated author Padma Venkatraman. Her novel “The Bridge Home,” about four homeless children who make a life for themselves on an abandoned bridge in the teeming streets of Chennai, India, is not just about, as New York Times bestselling author Aisha Saeed put it, “the reality millions of homeless children live every day.” It’s also shows the way people “use their instincts and grit to survive,” she added.
For award-winning journalist Rebecca Coffey, who will be reading from her fact-based novel, “Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story,” about the complicated relationships between Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna, the struggle is more inward: how to build a full life with a female lover, all the while doting on her disapproving father as he ages.
Adversity — specifically, in the natural world — also pulses through Randi Minetor’s “Death in Glacier National Park.” The thriller chronicles the mishaps, including drowning, avalanches, suicides, and murder, that have befallen 264 people amid the park’s jagged cliffs, frigid waterways, and dense concentration of grizzlies and black bears since the park was established in 1910.
“This event is about honoring the powerful impact of words to entertain, inspire, and change lives,” said R.J. Julia Booksellers owner Roxanne Coady, in explaining why the Madison bookstore is sponsoring the event.
If it helps even one more family, like the Sanchez’s, experience the dignity of owning a home, it’ll be worth it, she added.
R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison presents the inaugural “Build Your Voice” to benefit Raise the Roof at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (300 Main St., Old Saybrook) at 4 p.m. For tickets and information, visit thekate.org or call 877-503-1286.