I'll Stand By You: One Woman's Mission to Heal the Children of the World

I'll Stand By You: One Woman's Mission to Heal the Children of the World

by Elissa Montanti, Jennifer Haupt
     
 

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The inspiring true story of how one woman—who People dubbed "the saint of Staten Island"—is changing the world, one child at a time.

Fourteen years ago, Elissa Montanti was a lab technician in Staten Island. She had, in the span of only a few years, lost her beloved mother, grandmother, and high school sweetheart. Hoping to find a way

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Overview

The inspiring true story of how one woman—who People dubbed "the saint of Staten Island"—is changing the world, one child at a time.

Fourteen years ago, Elissa Montanti was a lab technician in Staten Island. She had, in the span of only a few years, lost her beloved mother, grandmother, and high school sweetheart. Hoping to find a way past her own troubles and the depression and panic attacks that quietly crippled her, she decided to raise money for school supplies for the children of war-torn Bosnia. But at a meeting with the UN ambassador she learned that those children didn’t need pencils. He showed her a photo of a boy who had lost both arms and one leg to a land mine; these children needed a lot more.

Elissa went to Bosnia, brought the boy and his mother back to Staten Island, and arranged for free prosthetics and medical care. The Global Medical Relief Fund was born.

Working from the walk-in closet in her home, Elissa has since brought more than 150 children injured in war zones—Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere—to the United States, where, with the help of the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia and a network of doctors, nurses, and community leaders, they receive free housing and ongoing care.

In I’ll Stand by You, Elissa tells the stories of these children and the soldiers, doctors, and ordinary Americans who have come to their aid; the resistance she has faced for helping non-Americans; and the heartwarming tale of how in helping these children, she healed herself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After her parents’ divorce and the deaths of her mother, an old boyfriend, and grandmother, Montani was holed up in her small Staten Island apartment working as a medical assistant and suffering from debilitating panic attacks and depression. Her fog lifted when she wrote and performed a song for a local Bosnian relief fund-raiser in 1997. She was inspired to do whatever she could when she found a letter from a 14-year-old Bosnian boy named Kenan who had lost his arms and a leg in a land mine. He had outgrown his donated prosthetics and desperately needed new ones. “I want to help,” Montanti said without hesitation, realizing her own problems paled in comparison. Soliciting donations from companies, surgeons, and airlines, the Global Medical Relief Fund was born. Kenan and his mother flew to New York City and stayed with the author while he underwent physical therapy and fittings. With no money, no office (except her closet), and, eventually, no job, the GMRF went on to bring more than 150 children to the U.S. to be fit with prosthetics. The author’s spirits are as changed in this straightforward and sweet narrative as the lives of those she helped—and she finds hope, happiness, and love along her difficult but rewarding journey. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Elissa Montanti, with little money and no experience in humanitarian aid, has changed the fortunes of more than one hundred crippled children, one child at a time."
Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes

"An intriguing journey begins with tragic loss in the seemingly safe suburbs of Staten Island, and stretches across the rugged terrain of lawless hinterlands of-war torn Bosnia to find a new life of unexpected adventure and ultimate redemption.- This very personal story proves that one person can make a powerful difference in the lives of thousands."--
Deborah Rodriguez, author of the New York Times bestseller Kabul Beauty School

"The author's spirits are as changed in this straightforward and sweet narrative as the lives of those she helped-and she finds hope, happiness, and love along her difficult but rewarding journey."
Publishers Weekly

"A moving testament to the will and single-mindedness of one woman determined to help those in need."
Kirkus Reviews

"...this book shows us what can be done."
Library Journal

Library Journal
More than a memoir: 14 years ago, to overcome her grief after the death of several loved ones, Staten Island lab technician Montanti decided to help collect school supplies for children in Bosnia but discovered they need something different. After helping a child horribly maimed by a land mine, she founded her one-woman organization, the Global Medical Relief Fund, which brings injured children from war zones to this country for treatment. You've seen her on 60 Minutes.
Kirkus Reviews
An uplifting story of one woman's compassionate aid to wounded children. Almost 15 years ago, part-time singer-songwriter Montanti was battling severe depression and panic attacks brought on by the deaths of her mother, grandmother and first love. Unable to write or perform her music, she was forced out of this "very dark hole" by a friend who asked her to help with a fundraiser for war-torn Bosnia. Seeing pictures of children who had lost limbs during the war triggered an emotional response, allowing Montanti "to hear a faint melody." From there, she embarked on her own crusade to aid these wounded children. She quit her full-time job and started the Global Medical Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization run from Montanti's walk-in closet that would bring wounded children to the United States to receive free prosthetics. Aided primarily by the Shriners, Montanti opened her home, life and heart to these children, giving hope to the victims and their families. Despite the difficulties in obtaining documentation needed by Homeland Security and reams of red tape to access exit visas from foreign countries, Montanti has successfully helped more than 150 children from around the world. Bosnians, Haitians, Afghanis and Iraqis have all shared her home, with music and laughter serving as the universal languages. When asked why she has done so much for these children, the author replies, "how could I not?"--she believes "there are actions we can all take in our daily lives to help others in need and create a global family." A moving testament to the will and single-mindedness of one woman determined to help those in need.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525952954
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/02/2012
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.04(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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"...this book shows us what can be done."
Library Journal

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