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A Gift of Hope
Cover of A Gift of Hope
A Gift of Hope
Helping the Homeless
Borrow
In her powerful memoir His Bright Light, #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel opened her heart to share the devastating story of the loss of her beloved son. In A Gift of Hope, she shows us how she transformed that pain into a campaign of service that enriched her life beyond what she could imagine.
 
For eleven years, Danielle Steel took to the streets with a small team to help the homeless of San Francisco. She worked anonymously, visiting the “cribs” of the city’s most vulnerable citizens under cover of darkness, distributing food, clothing, bedding, tools, and toiletries. She sought no publicity for her efforts and remained anonymous throughout. Now she is speaking to bring attention to their plight.
 
In this unflinchingly honest and deeply moving memoir, the famously private author speaks out publicly for the first time about her work among the most desperate members of our society. She offers achingly acute portraits of the people she met along the way—and issues a heartfelt call for more effective action to aid this vast, deprived population. Determined to supply the homeless with the basic necessities to keep them alive, she ends up giving them something far more powerful: a voice.
 
By turns candid and inspirational, Danielle Steel’s A Gift of Hope is a true act of advocacy and love.
Praise for A Gift of Hope
“[A] moving call for action.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Moving . . . The mega-selling, notoriously private author . . . is candid and honest about her own private life in a way we’ve never seen before.”—Books for Better Living
“Most assume that Steel’s life is as glamorous as her fiction. . . . The real Steel is a bit more complicated.”—San Francisco Chronicle
In her powerful memoir His Bright Light, #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel opened her heart to share the devastating story of the loss of her beloved son. In A Gift of Hope, she shows us how she transformed that pain into a campaign of service that enriched her life beyond what she could imagine.
 
For eleven years, Danielle Steel took to the streets with a small team to help the homeless of San Francisco. She worked anonymously, visiting the “cribs” of the city’s most vulnerable citizens under cover of darkness, distributing food, clothing, bedding, tools, and toiletries. She sought no publicity for her efforts and remained anonymous throughout. Now she is speaking to bring attention to their plight.
 
In this unflinchingly honest and deeply moving memoir, the famously private author speaks out publicly for the first time about her work among the most desperate members of our society. She offers achingly acute portraits of the people she met along the way—and issues a heartfelt call for more effective action to aid this vast, deprived population. Determined to supply the homeless with the basic necessities to keep them alive, she ends up giving them something far more powerful: a voice.
 
By turns candid and inspirational, Danielle Steel’s A Gift of Hope is a true act of advocacy and love.
Praise for A Gift of Hope
“[A] moving call for action.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Moving . . . The mega-selling, notoriously private author . . . is candid and honest about her own private life in a way we’ve never seen before.”—Books for Better Living
“Most assume that Steel’s life is as glamorous as her fiction. . . . The real Steel is a bit more complicated.”—San Francisco Chronicle
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One One

    How and Why “Yo! Angel!” Started

    The homeless outreach team that changed my life, and that of many others, began at a very dark time for me. My son Nick showed signs of suffering from bipolar disease from his earliest childhood. At eighteen months, I found him “different,” and precocious long before that (he walked at eight months and spoke in full sentences in two languages when he was a year old). At four, I was convinced that he was manic. When he was five, I sought advice from doctors and psychiatrists who brushed off my concerns, and assured me he was “fine.” And when he was seven, I alternated between panic and despair, convinced that he was sick, begging for help for him, while every doctor I consulted reassured me and insisted there was nothing wrong. I have a great fondness now for doctors who respect the bond that mothers have with their children and acknowledge that we know them best of all. I knew my son was sick, but no professional would agree.

    When Nick was a very young child, which is not so very long ago, the tradition adhered to by most psychiatrists was that manic depression (or bipolar disease as it is more frequently called now), could not be diagnosed until a patient was in his early twenties, and was staunchly never medicated before that age. The medication most commonly used for bipolar disease was lithium. And it was considered exceptional and almost revolutionary when I found a very respected expert on manic depression at UCLA, who gave Nick lithium at sixteen. And for a brief time, lithium was a miraculous wonder drug for him. For the first time in years he was able to lead what appeared to be a totally normal life because of the drugs, and his diagnosis was established: He was bipolar. To be diagnosed at that age was almost unheard of then. Today, they give lithium to children suspected of being bipolar at four or five. That was unthinkable when Nick was that age. And the belief now is that if you diagnose and medicate bipolar children, they have a much better chance of having a normal life later on.

    I’ve written a whole book about Nick, his illness and his life, his victories and defeats, and our great love for him, so I won’t go into detail here. He had two very good years of productive, normal life once he was medicated. And at eighteen, still on the appropriate drugs, he felt so normal that he insisted he wanted to stop taking them. Much to my chagrin (and terror), he spiraled down immediately once off them, and within five weeks he made his first suicide attempt, and very nearly succeeded. Miraculously, he survived, and assured me he wouldn’t do it again, but did so ten days later, and was saved again. He made three unsuccessful suicide attempts in three months, then got back on his medications and improved immediately, and with the naivete of a loving parent, I thought we were home free. After those three suicide attempts, he seemed better, happier, more productive, and more functional than he had ever been, until fierce depression hit him again six months later. He made his final and tragically successful suicide attempt eleven months after the first one, and died at nineteen.

    It was a heartbreaking time for me, my eight other children, and all those who knew and loved Nick. Although I have eight wonderful children for whom I am immeasurably grateful, he left an enormous hole in our lives, and will be forever missed. The first months after he died were bleak, to say the least. Like many grieving parents, I had a hard time getting from one day to the next.

    To compound things further, as sometimes happens at difficult times, like after a...
About the Author-
  • Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors, with over 600 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include The Sins of the Mother, Friends Forever, Betrayal, Hotel Vendome, Happy Birthday, 44 Charles Street, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death, and the memoir The Gift of Hope.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    September 1, 2012
    Mega-selling novelist Steel (Friends Forever, 2012, etc.) reveals a hidden chapter from her life: the time she spent assisting the homeless on the streets of San Francisco. Overwhelmed by grief after her oldest son committed suicide, the author prayed for "something to make me hold on." Within minutes, she heard a voice in her head: "It came to me simply: Help the homeless." Steel admits to being frightened initially, but the first time she distributed supplies to those in need (accompanied by an employee who agreed to join her), she felt uplifted by their response. The people she met were deeply grateful and undemanding, and she felt a deep connection to them. Although she thought this would be a one-time experience, she returned on a monthly basis over a period of 11 years. She assembled a small team of helpers, all the while protecting her anonymity in order to avoid the celebrity scene. Concerned for their safety in potentially dangerous neighborhoods, she recruited four off-duty policemen as helpers, but in fact, they were never threatened. Steel offers inspiring stories of the people she encountered: a mother in a wheelchair with her daughter, who was receiving chemotherapy, who shunned the shelters because they found conditions inside more dangerous than those on the street; street people whose meager belongings and makeshift shelters were treated as trash by the city sanitation department; and many more. Their outreach group would call out the street salute, "Yo," to announce their presence, and they became known as "Yo! Angel." With poverty programs shutting down, while at the same time, more people are homeless, Steel has felt the need to drop her anonymity and go public. A simple but moving call for action.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews "A moving call to action."
  • Books for Better Living "Moving . . . The mega-selling, notoriously private author . . . is candid and honest about her own private life in a way we've never seen before."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "Most assume that Steel's life is as glamorous as her fiction. . . . The real Steel is a bit more complicated."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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Helping the Homeless
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