The Pow­er of Half: One Fam­i­ly’s Deci­sion to Stop Tak­ing and Start Giv­ing Back

Kevin Sal­wen and Han­nah Salwen
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011
These two books are about extra­or­di­nary fam­i­lies who llus­trate how peo­ple can ele­vate their lives beyond every­day exis­tence. Their sto­ries offer us a valu­able glimpse into the pri­or­i­ties set by two altru­is­tic fam­i­lies.

In What Else But Home, Michael Rosen describes how he, his wife, Les­ley, and their two chil­dren made room in their lives and home for five inner city boys. He records how each of the old­er adopt­ed” sons joined the fam­i­ly and how Michael and Les­ley extend­ed them­selves as par­ents” to these young men, all of whom came from severe­ly trou­bled homes. Rosen reflects on how the nuclear Rosen fam­i­ly had to re-bal­ance their lives to cre­ate both phys­i­cal space and an emo­tion­al bond with William, Kin­du, Juan, Michael Philippe, and Car­los. It was not always easy for the Rosens’ two sons, Rip­ton and Mor­gan, nor for Michael and Lesley’s mar­riage; how­ev­er, all five boys received the love, care, and parental guid­ance that they were not get­ting any­where else in their lives. Through this sen­si­tive and mov­ing sto­ry, we under­stand Michael and Lesley’s com­mit­ment to enabling the boys to achieve bet­ter lives. 

In the same vein, Kevin and Han­nah Sal­wen, teach us how to open our minds, hearts, and wal­lets to oth­ers in The Pow­er of Half. In this unusu­al sto­ry, the Sal­wen fam­i­ly decides to sell their home, a beau­ti­ful his­toric man­sion. Using half the pro­ceeds from the sale of the house, they buy a more mod­est home and use the oth­er half to embark on a phil­an­thropic jour­ney. 

Kevin, his wife, Joan, and their two chil­dren, Han­nah and Joseph, engaged in a process of learn­ing about human need and decid­ed to assist the peo­ple of Ghana. The sto­ry reveals how when peo­ple see beyond their own needs and desires, they have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to tru­ly under­stand the mean­ing of giv­ing to oth­ers. 

Both books are engag­ing­ly writ­ten and draw the read­er into the authors’ lives and strug­gles. Read­ers will be chal­lenged to think about their own lives and how they, too, can help make the world a bet­ter place.

Addi­tion­al books fea­tured in this review

Stephen G. Don­shik, D.S.W., is a lec­tur­er at the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty’s Com­mu­ni­ty Lead­er­ship and Phil­an­thropy Pro­gram. He writes on the non-prof­it sec­tor and has a con­sult­ing firm focused on strength­en­ing non-prof­its and their lead­er­ship for tomorrow.

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