#104 ~ One Can Make A Difference

September 30, 2008 at 11:08 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 6 Comments
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One Can Make a Difference: How Simple Actions Can Change the World edited by Ingrid E. Newkirk


I am dedicating this review to Natasha at Maw Books Blog.  Reading this book was rewarding and inspirational to me, especially as it coincided with her Reading and Blogging for Darfur project.  The story of the people of Darfur touched her heart so much through book and film that she dedicated the entire month of September to raise awareness and donations.  She may not be a world-wide spiritual leader, a politician, a rock-star, a fashion designer, a movie star, a celebrated athlete, or a movie director, but she is a hero to me.  She used the medium she had at her disposal and dove in head first to help people she’s never met.  Her efforts this month truly embody the spirit of this book.  Natasha, this world is richer place because of you.

For every comment left here about this book review, service to others, or other related topics, I will donate 25 cents to Natasha’s efforts.


I was leery about accepting a copy of One Can Make A Difference, edited by Ingrid E. Newkirk, the co-founder of PETA.  I remember very clearly the first time I received PETA literature in high school and it completely freaked me out.  While I don’t agree with harming animals unnecessarily, I don’t agree with making people unwittingly look at mutilated bunnies just because they open up an envelope, either.  That was the first and last piece of mail and, later down the road, email that I opened from that organization.  Lauren at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. convinced me that this would be a good book and I’m glad that I followed her advice.  One Can Make A Difference provides a great look at ways in people turn their passions into service.

This book starts with something as simple as learning to be comfortable in your own skin in order to serve as an example to others and ends with developing long term solutions for housing Native Americans.  There are so many other interesting ideas brought forth within this book.  I can’t say that they all spoke to me, but the key is to find something that sparks a passion in your heart.  From there will come your inspiration to change the world, even if that world is just one person.  I enjoyed the stories written by people whose service to others is well know, such as The Dalai Lama and Paul McCartney and by those who fly under my radar, such as Sean Austen, Oliver Stone, and Kevin Bacon. Best of all, not everyone featured was a celebrity.  I got to meet Dana Hork and Anita Smith.

This book is structured such that each individual’s story opens with some brief biographical information about that person and his or her road to service.  As much as I enjoyed the individual stories, I appreciated the biographical information equally.  For example, I would have been completely lost in the very first story about Barbara (Bobbie) Adams.  She is the woman who wore her Star Trek uniform to jury duty in Little Rock, AR.  Without that information, I couldn’t have brought this woman to mind.  While it may be easy to brush her off as a Trekkie, I was really inspired by her story.  Her ideals may not be mine, but her strength of character and dedication to her convictions is both inspirational and admirable.  I also found it nice that this book was organized in alphabetical order by the individual’s last name.  Doing so put the emphasis on what the person was trying to accomplish, not who the individual is.  Finally, there is source and, when appropriate, contact information for each of the individuals.

This will most definitely be my graduation gift from this point forward.  Living a life of service, however one may find it – in a career, during one’s spare time, through one’s charitable giving, or as a result of one’s interests and passion – is one’s most important legacy.  Reading this book is to discover how each person can honestly and creatively make a difference.


To buy this book, click here.



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  1. Wow! It sounds like we all need to read that book to remind ourselves how we impact others in our daily lives and how we should strive to make that impact positive.

  2. This sounds like a great read. I am always inspired by people who put their efforts into their passions, even if I don’t agree with them. I think this is another one for my good reads tbr list.

  3. Oh Jennifer! I can’t tell you how deeply touched I am with your very kind words. Thank you so much. My little awareness campaign certainly wasn’t supposed to be a highlight on me, but when I read your post, it made it all worth it. Now I’m getting all emotional . . .
    It’s precisely because this wasn’t about you that prompted this dedication. It’s one thing to read a book about people you don’t know doing things. It’s another when you know (or at least know through blogging) someone who may not have the same resources doing the exact same thing. I thought about you with each and every story.

  4. that sounds like an awesome book..and i love your idea of giving it as a graduation gift! such a nice idea!:) i might just steal it;)
    Steal away! I can’t think of a better gift for a graduate – or anyone really – then to give them inspiration to think outside themselves.

  5. Jennifer, this sounds like a book I would enjoy.

    I agree that we can all make a difference but sometimes I look at my own life and feel it’s just not happening. Like delivering Meals on Wheels every Wednesday just doesn’t cut it, you know?

    I would love to be inspired and encouraged by this book, as I have been by what Natasha is doing with her Darfur campaign.

    Thanks for the great review of what sounds like an important book.

  6. I have always thought I don’t read enough non-fiction. This book would be a great selection, so heart-warming and inspiring. While I appreciate those who go to third world countries to serve, the book reminds me that even in our own community we can make a difference. I’ll pick this one up. 🙂

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