Author Mitch Albom has made a profession out of assisting others, whether it is through his more than 35 million books that have been sold worldwide (and frequently center on motivational figures or themes) or his countless charitable initiatives. He began writing about sports in his early 20s and eventually rose to national prominence while working for the Detroit Free Press. Albom has written several books about sports, including "Fab Five" and "Bo," and he has also published four collections of his finest articles, together titled "Live Albom." The Associated Press Sports Editors have repeatedly named Albom the best sportswriter in the nation. Albom, however, has also committed a significant portion of his literary career to aiding the homeless and underprivileged in the Detroit area and around the world. He founded eight charitable organizations, including A Time to Help and the A Hole in the Roof Foundation. He also established the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic, the country's first free clinic for homeless children and their mothers, as well as S.A.Y. Detroit, an umbrella organization for organizations that aid the socially vulnerable.
Despite all of the success Albom has amassed over the years, the native of Passaic, New Jersey, still finds it surprising that he consistently ranks among the best-selling authors in the New York Times. With his autobiographical description of his friendship with a former college professor who was battling Lou Gerhig's disease, Albom first rocketed to the top of the bestsellers list in 1997. Late in the 1970s, the professor instructed Albom at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The novel "Tuesdays With Morrie" achieved international sales of 14 million copies while dominating the New York Times best sellers list for an incredible 205 weeks.
“It was sort of a series of events (that led to ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’),” Albom said. “I had written a few sports books, and I didn’t really think I would do anything beyond writing sports books, until I saw my old professor dying from Lou Gerhig’s disease. Actually, it wasn’t like I really thought I’d have a career doing this kind of thing. I just wrote it to pay his medical bills.”
Albom said he never expected people to react to the book the way that they did. “You don’t go into a book thinking like that,” Albom said. “I never anticipated that. Being 37 when I wrote it, I wasn’t in my 20s trying to get onto the New York Times best-seller list. I never really gave it any thought until it happened.”
Success for Albom didn't end there. The immediate classic "The Five People You Meet In Heaven," which he later wrote, was a New York Times best seller for 95 weeks starting in 2003. In 2006, "For One More Day," "Have a Little Faith," "The Time Keeper," and "The First Phone Call From Heaven" followed. The most current book by Mitch Albom, "The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto," has a rock 'n' roll soundtrack. His most recent work is on a musician named Frankie Presto, whose amazing guitar playing abilities have an impact on the lives of the many individuals he meets during his life and career. The novel was inspired by Albom’s own aspiration to be a musician, which started at a very young age.
Albom remarked, "I never dreamed I'd have an album, much less a soundtrack to a book. "It was always my desire, and when I first started out, I was a young musician who wanted to succeed in the music industry. But after I gave up on that and entered the writing profession, I stopped thinking about working on albums in general. So, having something to look at and say, "Well, 35 years later, I now have an album," is really great for me. ’”
Since "Tuesdays with Morrie," all of Albom's works have addressed issues that most people presumably consider on a regular basis but are unaware of, such as mortality, life after death, chance meetings, and the potential of communicating with loved ones who have passed away. However, "Have a Little Faith," which describes his conversations about faith with his childhood rabbi and his efforts to assist the underprivileged and homeless in Detroit, has one of Albom's most significant topics.
While writing "Have a Little Faith," Albom came upon a church in Detroit that provided sanctuary to a large number of the homeless residents of the area. A Hole in the Roof Foundation was founded by Albom as a result of the church's urgent need for repairs. The author claimed, "The only reason I happened across that chapel was because I had previously founded a charity to serve the homeless." "Charity kind of comes out of Morrie, too. He kind of chastised me into being accountable in my neighborhood. He advised me to use my voice for purposes other than establishing my reputation. This was the inspiration for my first charitable endeavor. Prior to that, I probably didn't give it much thought because I may have been too preoccupied with pursuing my goals and profession. In response to Morrie's counsel, Albom later established his own nonprofit to support other groups working to assist the homeless.
He continued, "I kind of have a two-pronged approach to helping individuals. "Since you're physically there and able to, I believe you should start by helping the community where you live. My nonprofit, S.A.Y. Detroit, is in charge of nine other charities, several of which focus on homelessness. Due to the serious issue of homeless children being unable to attend school because they fall ill, which can result in a three-week absence, we have the first clinic in the country specifically for homeless children and their moms. Because if they state their address is at a shelter, foster care may come and take their children away, and they would have to battle to get them back, there is a significant problem with homeless individuals refusing to take their children to an emergency department to be treated.
"As a result, we founded our own medical facility, which has been operating for nine years. We support numerous shelter programs for men, veterans, seniors, and women looking for work or just getting out of drug rehab, as well as newborn daycare services. “The second prong of my charity is the A Hole in the Roof Foundation, which was set up after ‘Have a Little Faith.’ That actually funds efforts around the country, helping places in California and on the East Coast in places where I don’t live or even go to, and of course, we have the orphanage in Haiti, where ‘homeless’ is a much smaller word compared to what the people of Haiti are.”
Albom also brought up the issue of long-term homelessness and the crack epidemic that devastated Detroit decades ago.
"The worst example was what crack did to the city of Detroit, but the current heroin crisis is not anything that hasn't happened before with other substances. The city was truly decimated, according to Albom. "Any time a narcotic is available for cheap, society will fall apart, especially in locations where there is a lack of resources. You'll observe an increase in crime and the shattered lives of people. Albom thinks lawmakers on Capitol Hill could be doing more to promote the development of housing and employment opportunities. He also believes that they ought to collaborate with charity to aid the nation's poor and homeless citizens.
“I don’t think the government is doing enough, but as I say that, I also see that when the government does do things, it doesn’t do them very well,” Albom said. “The sad truth is that homelessness issues are being taken care of by faith-based organizations, where it isn’t so much the government but the government’s money, and private money and organizations, but I don’t think the government is set up to keep up with homelessness. I think the government can help homelessness more by doing things in the housing world and the employment world.
“Forget about crack addiction and heroin addiction. A huge problem with homelessness is the lack of jobs, lack of opportunities, people who have had run-ins with the law not getting hired or how the family ethic is blown apart, leaving people to drift. I’ve met people who have full families who are in the area, living in houses, but don’t want to take this person in because they are labeled as a troublemaker. These are big societal issues that I think the government can only help if they take care of bigger issues that affect poverty and the families. But in terms of them trying to clean up the homeless problem, I don’t see it happening.”
Albom has devoted his life to serving others. Aiding others in processing their emotions has been a major focus in his literature, in addition to his charity efforts.
According to Albom, he "always finds a larger topic and then tries to create a plot and people that match up with that concept." "Everyone influences someone else with the gifts they have, or sometimes don't realize they have, according to the theme of 'The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto'. Frankie Presto is a magician who plays a magic guitar with which he can genuinely transform people's lives. The strings of the guitar become blue whenever he alters a life.
“It’s a very fairytale way of conveying the idea that everybody can affect somebody, and that we all sort of have a ‘blue string,’ if not many of them, inside us.”