Debbie was a teacher in Crawford Central and Penncrest School Districts in northwestern Pennsylvania. At a language arts course she attended in 1998, teachers were encouraged to do writing projects along with their students. She thought this was an excellent idea, and as her students were writing their stories, Debbie also worked on a book that she thought her students could help edit.
As the years went by, she’d run into her past students from time to time; they had moved on, graduated from college, started families, and they would ask Mrs. Mink, “Hey, did you ever finish that book?” Debbie had to answer, “No.” Debbie had retired and moved to Willow Valley Communities with her husband, Keith. The dream of writing a book moved along with her. Debbie’s neighbor at Willow Valley Communities, Bonnie Frick, read the first chapter about three years ago to help Debbie edit. She, too, joined the chorus of questions inquiring about the status of the book.
Debbie had many good reasons why the book wasn’t finished. “I was busy with many Willow Valley Communities activities, such as pickleball, tennis, biking, swimming, fitness classes, walking, and concerts. But then I went to Australia and New Zealand with Willow Valley Communities’ travel group, and upon arriving back in March, I was quarantined,” she explained.
Debbie started to use the quarantine as many did: to clean closets. But as she dug into her task, she came across several letters from students who mentioned the book, wondering if it had been published yet. “These letters really motivated me to complete the project,” Debbie said. “Plus, the Willow Valley Communities’ writing groups I participate in made me realize that publishing a book really could happen. I knew that if I was ever going to ﬁnish my book, the coronavirus was the time.”
Debbie got to work, and Bonnie, along with other Willow Valley Communities Residents Marian Yoder and Linda Jones (both of Spring Run), proofread.
While quarantined, Debbie was able to complete not only the first book she started with her students, but a second one as well. Choices is about bullying and includes cross sections of many of her students. The second book, Adapting to Vision Challenges — Together, is Debbie’s memoir of living with someone who is visually challenged. Both books are available on Amazon.
Debbie is happy she was able to finish these books and looks forward to writing more. “COVID-19 may have hit me and stopped me in my tracks,” she said. “But I certainly did hit back!”