Thursday, November 14, 2013

Harlequin More Than Words

PJ here.  You've heard me talk about Harlequin's More Than Words initiative on various occasions over the past few years.  It's a charitable program that honors women who are making a difference in their communities; an initiative for which I highly commend Harlequin. It's time to select the winners for the 2014 awards and that's where you, dear readers, have the opportunity to have your opinions count.  Read below for more details.  



Harlequin has just opened the voting for their annual More Than Words awards - a charitable program that honors women, real-life heroines, making a difference in their communities.

How often do we get a chance to say thanks to someone who is dedicating their life to helping other people? By voting for your favorite woman and charity, you give one of these impressive women a chance to win $15,000 for her charity of choice and to be paired up with a bestselling Harlequin writer, who will turn her inspiring story into a novella that's released to the public as a free e-book.

There are 5 finalists and only 3 winners, so vote now and vote as often as once a day through November 21st at 11:59pm EST. Winners will be announced in January.


Linda Burston has been the Support Coordinator at the Women’s Lunch Place for the last 14 years. As a former homeless drug addict rehabilitated through the help of the Women's Lunch Place, she is determined to help homeless and poor women get off the streets and develop independence. Learn more about Linda here:

Sarah Cronk, the Founder of The Sparkle Effect, also serves as its President and Creative Director. Currently a student at Whitman College, Sarah helped to create and coach the nation's first high-school based inclusive cheerleading squad at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa, when she was just 15 years old. The Sparkle Effect is a student-run program that empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs. Learn more about Sarah here:

Shari Duval is the president of K9s For Warriors, a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury as a result of the wars since 9/11. The service is free and gives each warrior a three week, live-in program with a trained service dog, equipment, vet care, all meals and emotional support. Learn more about Shari here:

Ann McGee, founder of Miracle Flights for Kids® , recognized the need for coordination of aviation services that could provide no cost transportation for blood, donor organs, and sick children to medical facilities around the country that they otherwise couldn't get to because of financial hardship. Through her dedication, the program has grown from a handful of flights for local kids to a nation-wide effort that flies boys and girls from all corners of the country. Learn more about Ann here:

Megan Yunn, founder of Beverly's Birthdays, believes in spreading birthday cheer 365 days a year and that every child, regardless of personal or financial circumstances deserves a birthday celebration. The organization currently serve ten homeless shelters in the Pittsburgh region by throwing birthday parties for the children living in the shelters. Megan receives no income from the organization and hopes that in the future, Beverly's Birthdays can provide a birthday celebration for every child living in transitional or emergency shelters in the Pittsburgh region. Learn more about Megan here:

Tell me about real-life heroines in your community or tell us about your own volunteer efforts. Then go vote for one of the finalists above.  

To thank you for voting in this year's More Than Words contest, I'm giving away a copy of Harlequin's More Than Words, Volume 7 featuring fictional romances by Jill Shalvis, Carly Phillips and Donna Hill that were inspired by previous More Than Words winners.  

This giveaway is open to anyone living in a country to which delivers.  



  1. Oh, what a wonderful thing. I am in total awe for those that can do so much. I do what I can. I started out as a candystriper as a teenager and eventually got involved in girl scouts, a local women's charity group and now our American Legion. Thanks for all that do so much.

  2. I have become drawn to our local children’s hospital which is growing with leaps and bounds and has state-of-the-art treatment especially for childhood cancer. Our friend’s little girl was diagnosed with leukemia a couple years ago and after searching around for the best medical care for her, her parents decided that the best care was right here in their own “back yard.” The doctors and staff are amazing and this young child has done beautifully with her treatment. There are lots of wealthy people who have given money to aid in the building of wings for this hospital as well as sponsoring huge auctions each year. The young girl I mentioned did a beautiful drawing of a kitty surrounded by butterflies which was auctioned off for a fabulous price and now resides in the entryway of the hospital. As I have been so touched by her journey, I sent a number of requests to authors and book publishers asking them to please send some children’s and young adult books to the hospital for use by the patients. I felt that if they could lose themselves in a book, even for just a short period of time, it would give them some peace and comfort. There were a few people who responded to my requests, but a few is more than none. Bless all of those people out there who take that extra little step to help someone else. As my mother always used to say, “There but for the grace of God go I."

  3. My daughter has worked with special needs children since she was volunteering at Easter Seals in high school. She is now a special education teacher.

  4. I just had a nice long comment disappear. (new computer with wireless mouse. Things just keep vanishing) Soooo I'll consider it and indication I was saying too much about myself.

    What an impressive and deserving slate of finalists again this year. They are all doing a wonderful service for their communities. No matter who the winners are, they will be well deserved.

    Volunteering has been a way of life. I grew up learning to share what we had and help those who needed it. I joined the Peace Corps and served for 3 wonderful years. As an Air Force wife I was involved with many community and family focused organizations. Since my husband retired from the military, things haven't changed much. We have always been involved with projects and organizations and have included our children with most of it. Over the course of 40 years of marriage and 3 children there have been many, many opportunities to serve. Now we are involved primarily with Red Cross, Honor Flight, and church organizations.

    For those of you not familiar with it, Honor Flight takes veterans to Washington, DC for a day to visit the monuments and Arlington National Cemetery. There are chapters all over the US, many making several trips a year. They have started with the WWII veterans and take Korean vets if there is room. The trip has been a wonderful experience for these older veterans who have served their country. Each veteran is assigned a guardian who assists them throughout the entire trip. The chapters are all volunteer and everything is done and supported through donations. The trip is free for the veteran but the guardians pay their own way. If you have an older veteran, encourage them to go on this trip. If you can afford it, become a guardian and/or donate to this worthy cause.

    Red Cross is what we have been most involved with lately. It does a lot of good all over the country and the world. Many people think it gets government funding, but it relies on donations. We are disaster volunteers, work in their Service To Armed Forces programs, are blood donors, and help with other of their community programs. Even if you can only man their reception desk a few hours a week or month, they can use your help. With all the major disasters here in the US this past year, plus the international aide being given nor in the Philippines, and the local fire assistance given, Red Cross is finding itself and finances stretched thin. It is another organization that could use any donations you can send its way.

    One thing I discovered while in the Peace Corps and has been brought home many times since, no matter how much you do, you always seem to get more out of it for the doing. the thank you hug or smile from someone that has just lost everything to a house fire or tornado is worth more than you can imagine.

  5. I'm a massive supporter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders. They do such a phenomenal job world wide.

    My Mother is heavily involved with The Red Cross.

  6. I love to read to children, so I try to volunteer at my local library when I can. I love to watch their little faces fill up with wonder and ah, at the words and stories that jump off the pages. Nothing better than giving a child the love of a book they will come to treasure.

  7. What a marvelous program. I am humbled by the efforts of these courageous women. My own efforts are much simpler. I volunteer with several church groups that provide a variety of services.

  8. Kudos to all the ladies who goes above and beyond to help others. There's a Christmas Cheerboard that provides food hampers and gifts for those less fortunate in our city over the holidays. We go and help pack and deliver the hampers.

  9. Congrats to all the finalists! It's so awesome what they are doing for their communities. I've had the opportunity to be a part of a peer tutoring program back in junior high and I also volunteered at a nursing home. Such fantastic learning experiences!