Reeve Foundation Employee Shares "Bits of Me"

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on June 17, 2015 # News

The Paralysis Resource Center’s own Donna Valente, the Director of Quality of Life Grants, has published her first book entitled Bits of Me. It contains a collection of poetry inspired by the journey of her life and includes a short story dedicated to her friend Carrie who passed away from complications from living with a spinal cord injury.

“I was Carrie’s classroom assistant in my late twenties where I took notes, carried books for her and helped her with general duties around the class. We quickly became friends and remained close for almost 3 decades until her passing,” Donna said. “I wrote the short story while in college and she loved it, so I knew that I wanted to dedicate it to her.”

Donna received her associate’s degree from the County College of Morris, and went on to continue her education, taking writing classes, business courses, and even applying for a full writing fellowship at the University of Texas. However, she decided to stay in New Jersey with her family and continue creative writing while working full time, and sending in poems to different contests and learning about self-publishing.

After taking a few different career paths, Donna started at the Reeve Foundation as development assistant in 1996. Her primary function was writing foundation grant proposals.

“I used to write letters for Chris to his friends to thank them for donations and attending events. He was such a smart man. The fact that he said he enjoyed my writing, and that I captured his voice so well always made me so happy,” Donna added.

While working here, she completed her undergraduate degree in sociology from Montclair State University in 2000. Then in 2004, Donna transitioned to the Quality of Life program with the PRC, working alongside Dana Reeve who created the program.

In fact, there are specific poems in Bits of Me inspired by working with Christopher Reeve and his family. One specifically is entitled, “Letters for Superman,” which was the original working title of the book. With her experiences, Donna hopes to reach out and make an emotional connection to her readers.

“I feel people need to be more compassionate. We get so caught up in our own lives, we don’t realize what is happening around us, and how it affects us directly and indirectly. We need to see each other as individuals and not just as a surface of judgement.”

Part of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Reeve Foundation.

Click here to find where you can buy Bits of Me.

Or borrow it from our Lending Library.