September 23, 2019

Culminating Event for Tri-Town Youth Services Community Read

Three Cups of Tea is this Summer's Community Read

On October 17  the tri-town community will come together for the culminating event of Tri-Town Youth Service’s Community Read of the book ‘Three Cups of Tea’, a refreshing, inspiring story of hope and achievement. Keynote speakers at the event we will be Bryan Nurnberger and his wife, inspirational singer/songwriter, Kristen Graves.

Bryan is the President and founder of Simply Smiles, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children. Bryan will share some of his stories and his philosophy on creating change and building community. 

In the summer of 2002, Bryan, a rock climber, injured and unable to continue climbing on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, found himself heartbroken and appalled by the severe poverty he saw there.  So Nurnberger, then a special education teacher in Prospect, emptied his savings account of about $5,000.  With that he bought food, clothes and diapers for the children at Casa Hogar, a struggling Mexican orphanage with 80 children.

In 2003 Nurnberger founded SimplySmiles with the start of his first project, The Casa Hogar Benito Juarez Children’s Home in Oaxaca City, Mexico.  In the seven years since, SimplySmiles has continued to grow, work and fulfill their mission of improving the lives of impoverished children in the mountains of southern Mexico and around the world. Like Greg Mortenson, Bryan Nurnberger refused to think that one person with a vision, a heart and a commitment could not make a difference – even if it was one smile at a time!  Also like Greg Mortenson, Bryan would not give up or let “roadblocks” stop him.  Back in the beginning of his journey of hope and compassion, Bryan spent six months battling Mexican authorities as he tried to bring a school bus filled with medical supplies, toiletries, clothing, toys, and eighty personalized quilts to Casa Hogar. 
Like Greg Mortenson, Bryan Nurnberger, admirably does not tarnish or try to “improve” the culture through a western political or religious agenda. Rather, he works with the local communities to provide more opportunities within the context of the existing culture.

Kristen Graves is a folk/pop singer and songwriter with a voice that commands attention, lyrics that catch your heart, and melodies that stay with the listener long after the evening ends. Kristen’s songs have a coziness to them like a well-worn winter blanket, but don’t underestimate her; she can pack a serious emotional punch at a moment’s notice.  Kristen has been writing and performing her own songs since 2000. As an acoustic singer and songwriter she has toured nationally since 2002. She has written and recorded four albums, and has independently sold thousands of copies of her CDs. Kristen will accompany Bryan on the 17th and will sing some of her songs of hope for us.

Three Cups of Tea is about the possibility of cultures coming together for a common goal of peace and hope.  The book, and Mortenson’s own courage and dedication to the mission, are catalysts for change, and motivate, inspire and educate. Bryan Nurnberger and SimplySmiles will do the same for all of us! Through their parallel stories we can come to know and believe that one person can make a substantial and meaningful impact in the world.

The event will take place  on Oct.17 at 2:00 p.m.  at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River.  All are welcome.

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