Kanya Vashon - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on April 8, 2008
Age Group: 65+
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Thirty-nine years ago I moved to New York City from Cleveland, Ohio. In Harlem I discovered that 80% of the youngsters dropped out of school before getting a high school diploma!

Now here’s where the fun begins: I decided to take a year or so and experiment with an old dream. A dream I had conceived while teaching elementary school in California back in the early 60’s. It involved gathering 2 or 3 copies of books I loved from my own private collection and making them available to the citizens of New York City in a free reading room on 125th and Lenox in Harlem to see if anyone else would find them as interesting as I did. Also available for sale.

What made these books different was that they mainly consisted of books of Self improvement and inner consciousness like “As A Man Thinketh”, “The Finding of the Third Eye” and “Back to Eden” etc.. Imagine my surprise when the year or two I had planned to give to this experiment almost miraculously extended itself to 10 years and soon we had a store of 12,000 square feet with an average monthly patronage of more than 15,000 persons from all over the world, of all races and creeds. We called the bookstore “The Tree of Life”.

The building was unfortunately torn down in 1980 to make way for a hotel convention center that was never built and on that corner for 22 years was a parking lot! But the concept of The Tree of Life is every much as valid today as it was 39 years ago and I sincerely believe that I will find a partner that will help me rebuild this vital and badly needed institution and franchise it all over America.

This I believe!