The Salwen family lived the American Dream. Fast-track careers afforded parents Kevin and Joan a beautiful home, luxury cars, world travel and private school educations for their teenage children, Hannah and Joseph. In their affluent neighborhood, new was better and more was the norm. But one day, witnessing the sharp social contrast between a homeless man and a man driving a Mercedes, Hannah experienced a profound “aha” moment that sparked a family dialogue—one that ultimately led the Salwens to sell their Atlanta McMansion and commit half the proceeds to a worthy charity.

The resulting book, The Power of Half, is a poignant story with a powerful message about creating a new family standard that involves giving rather than taking. With today’s economic concerns, the Salwens’ book is not only timely but truly inspiring. The idea of “the power of half” is simply a point of measure to help people to gauge their giving efforts. Ideally, readers will come away from this work with a realization that we all have something to give. Whether one contributes money, time or talent, the effort is its own reward.

Through a unique roundtable dynamic that gave each family member an equal say in all project decisions, it’s clear the Salwens did more than talk the talk. They walked the walk. The Power of Half reveals some remarkable life lessons, including working templates that serve to better ourselves and the world. For this family, the effects of their project were surprisingly twofold. In choosing to help the plight of villages in Africa, the Salwens not only transformed the lives of others, but in the process they experienced several powerful transformations of their own.

The tandem writing team of father and daughter emphatically reinforces the concept of family working together. The generational blend of thoughts, ideas and energies, moving towards a common goal, is undoubtedly a mighty force. This thought-provoking read compels us to appreciate what we have. More importantly, it is an affirmation of life’s true worth, realized in our sense of self, in our commitment to family and in our efforts to leave a positive imprint on the world. The message is truly empowering.

Carol Davala is a freelance writer in Lake Wales, Florida, where, inspired by The Power of Half, she contributes to knitting projects for the charitable WarmUpAmerica organization.

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