Friday, February 1, 2019

An Interview With "Lee Fitts" Author Rich Garon - A Heartwarming New Novel Raising Money for the D.C. Homeless

Q&A With Lee Fitts Author Rich Garon
A Heartwarming New Novel Raising Money for the D.C. Homeless

Rich Garon, the author of the new novel Lee Fitts (due releasing in February this month), was a former Chief-of-Staff for the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to his wonderful career on Capitol Hill for 25 years, Garon received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from New York University. He currently devotes his time as a member of the Serve (Outreach and Mission) Committee at the Immanuel Anglican Church in Woodbridge, VA where he coordinates the homeless ministry, with an emphasis on those living in the woods.

Lee Fitts is Garon’s second book, the synopsis goes: “You can’t stop rooting for Lee Fitts. They say he had such potential. Then after that morning, he became mostly a survivor, traumatized by a horror that took so many innocent lives. As he tries to live on, his limitations make him what forgiveness, compassion and honesty are all about. But he soon learns, he is a in a world where one so clearly guided by these traits is easy prey. A woman sharing an important link to that morning commits herself to Lee’s recovery. A night at a homeless shelter gives Lee the ability to forgive the villain who has haunted him all these years. And a pastor, wrestling with problems of his own, affords Lee the chance at redemption for himself and his father.”

Perhaps this novel is the link that will connect Garon’s audience to understand his devotion to “writing for change” and his passion to help the homeless people and the community. All proceeds from the sale of Garon’s new novel, Lee Fitts, will go to the Bill Mehr Drop-In Center for the homeless in his local community.

Before reading ahead the Q&A with the author, I have a copy of Lee Fitts to giveaway!! Simply follow my Instagram: @Binzento and drop me a direct message. A winner will be selected via Instagram on February 28th 2019.

Q: Your book jacket text starts out “You can’t stop rooting for Lee Fitts?” Why is that the case?
Rich Garon: Lee Fitts, the novel’s protagonist, is someone exuding goodness, compassion, and honesty in light of limitations resulting from the trauma of a horrific accident. He is always trying to do his best to improve himself and help others.

Q: Forgiveness seems to be a big part of the book - what role does this topic play?
Garon: This is a central theme of the book along with compassion. Lee and a woman trying to help him both suffered greatly from the scene of horror opening the book. Yet they, after reflection and from faith they draw on, are moved to a colossal act of forgiveness that destroys the hate that horrible morning produced.

Q: You also say that Lee embodies honesty. How does that reveal itself and why is that of particular importance?  
Garon: The way honesty manifests itself in Lee emerges as he works on a political campaign. His actions are unthinkable from a political operative’s point of view and his honesty costs him.  At times, when many would say honesty is becoming a rarer commodity in politics, Lee’s experience becomes a salient commentary.

Q: Redemption is another element of the story. How does that figure into understanding Lee and the challenges he faces?
Garon: Prior to the accident, Lee had potential unknown among most his age. It was lost, as the incident destroyed Lee’s family and reduced Lee to someone with severe limitations. He begins to emerge from this condition and driven by faith, the love of his family, and the love of a woman who shares an important link to that morning, works to recapture the skill that was once his.

Q: And family, what role does that play?
Garon: Family is a central theme in this novel. Having his family together is the main thing in which Lee is interested. His love of family provides him with an incomparable source of strength, which together with strong support from two important friends, propels him toward the goal he sets.

Q: Before becoming an author, you worked on Capitol Hill. What did you do there, and why did you make the switch from politics to writer?
Garon: I worked on the Hill for over 25 years. I started as an intern and left the Hill after serving six years as Chief-of-Staff of the House Committee on International Relations. I did a lot of writing in my job where it was important to make your words work for you if you hoped those things you believed in came to fruition. I still have hope that certain things can change for the better and see the characters and themes of fiction a good way to try to raise awareness to these issues.

Q: I noticed the banner on your website says “Writing for change.” What does that mean?
Garon: Great question. Through the sale of my books I’m trying to raise awareness to some of the problems we’re facing today and also, by donating royalties to certain non-profits working on these problems, give them some additional resources to support their work. For example, proceeds from my first novel, Felling Big Trees, go to WhyHunger and proceeds from Lee Fitts will go to the Bill Mehr Drop-In Center for the homeless in my community in Virginia.

Q: Your book is dedicated to Russell J. Campbell. Tell us who that is, and why you dedicated the book to him.
Garon: Russell passed away this past April. I knew him for more than six years. When I first met him, he lived in the woods and almost died there one winter. But we were able to get him a studio apt.  with our church paying half the rent, the other half from some disability money he received. He became a very close friend and I became his authorized medical representative. Living in the woods took its toll, and he died of a degenerative brain disease.

Q: How does your faith impact your writing?
Garon: I hadn’t realized until after completing the book, what a faith-based exercise it was. But it’s all there, forgiveness, redemption, compassion, honesty along with occasional Scripture reference. Maybe it’s because I read so much C.S. Lewis. Lee is strong in the face of circumstances and people at odds with those virtues he has come to embody.

x Do the things you are passionate about; Learn from ones who inspire you; Strive to become an expert at what you do xx
Binzento Vincente: A Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Calgary's First Food Hall: Avenida Food Hall Brings A Taste Of Europe To Calgary

Avenida Food Hall Brings A Taste Of Europe To Calgary
Brand new concept offers 25+ full service restaurants with the bonus of farmers’ market vendors all under one roof
(photos: Avenida)
Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market (“Avenida”) is opening on December 15th, 2018 bringing a century-old concept to the south of Calgary. Originating within European department stores in the early 20th century, the food hall trend has spread to major cities all over the world.

Unlike food courts, which are designed and operated to serve as many people as quickly as possible, food halls are intended to serve as culinary gathering places, facilitating memorable social experiences where guests can stay awhile. Avenida will feature more than 25 full-service restaurants with incredible and innovative chefs at the helm including Duncan Ly, owner and chef at Foreign Concept, who is offering a new Mexican and Asian hybrid taqueria. Intertwined among the eateries will be communal dining designed to build community and foster connection among guests.

“If you’ve ever travelled to metropolises like Paris, New York and Lisbon in particular, you’ve likely experienced a traditional food hall and witnessed its community-building atmosphere,” notes Travis Callaway, president of Avenida. “When this space became available, we had a hard look at what type of model would bring both value and vibrancy to the neighbourhood and Calgary as a whole. A food hall has never been done before in our city and we feel like the trending foodie culture and slow food movement, Calgarians’ inquisitive approach to trying new flavours and cuisine as well as the open social environment will be widely enjoyed and appreciated.”

Beyond the restaurant options, guests will also be able to visit vendors that one would typically find in a more traditional farmers’ market. This includes fresh produce (both local and sourced from California and Mexico), butchers, a boutique florist and artisans as well as a unique stall where micro-artisans and makers are able to rent a small wall space to sell their local products.

“We’re also happy to share that Avenida has strict transparency requirements from its vendors as we want our guests to have a level of trust knowing where their food, ingredients and products as a whole are coming from,” continued Callaway. “We can’t wait to open our doors and become part of the city culture and act as a destination for tourists and locals alike.”

The interior look is inspired by a Southern California bistro vibe with modern touches like pendant lighting. Black and white motifs are prominent throughout the 22,000 square foot space. 

Avenida website:

x Do the things you are passionate about; Learn from ones who inspire you; Strive to become an expert at what you do xx
Binzento Vincente: A Fashion & Lifestyle Blog