Just 20 minutes from the heart of Eugene sits Jasper Mountain Center, an internationally recognized nonprofit where kids who are hurt and troubled, often by severe trauma or abuse, can live and attend school in a safe environment while getting the help they need to heal. After volunteering there since 2008, Gregory Ahlijian wanted give more to the center and the kids he works with, so he wrote a book and has been donating all of its proceeds plus its production costs to the center — so far about $44,000.
The Large Rock And The Little Yew: A short story about courage, perseverance, self-respect and hope: The yew seedling starts its life in a fissure of a big, negative rock and overcomes its tough beginnings to be a happy tree. It’s inspired by a real tree in the U.K. and a discussion about trees in one of his classes at the center.
Ahlijian says that the first time he visited the center and learned about the very serious reasons the children were there, “It was not a happy experience” for him. He started teaching to help out, and he says he hopes the book will be used to teach as well. Each section contains a life lesson, and its downloadable discussion packet has vocabulary words and open-ended discussion questions.
The book, now approaching its second anniversary and in its second printing, is available for $20 at local stores including Hirons, The Book Nest, Imagine Gallery and Market of Choice. Ahlijian says his next challenge is marketing nationally and possibly internationally (he just received an order from Malta), taking no reimbursement for the printing costs and donating every dollar to Jasper Mountain.