Author from Peters Township Uses Book Proceeds to Help Home Region | Life


In addition to its status as the county seat and home to a state university, Clarion Borough can claim to be, as Pam Selker Rak has described it, a pretty little town.

It is his primary memory of growing up there, about a hundred miles from his present home in Peters Township, amid a series of tree-lined streets laid out in a grid near the river that bears the name of the district.

Author Pam Selker Rak says of illustrator Susan Vincent: “She brings the whole story to life visually, to appeal to the kids.”

Good memories of his hometown, however, gave way to harsh realities.

“They struggle,” she said. “Let’s not water it down.”

In 2010, the Clarion Glass Plant in Owens-Illinois, one of the region’s largest employers, closed after 105 years. Today, Clarion University of Pennsylvania faces an uncertain future following its merger with two other schools in the national higher education system.

“I really feel like communities need people to step up and try to make an impact,” Rak said.

For her part, she transfers the net profits of the children’s books that she writes to the benefit of neighborhood institutions that she knew so well in her youth, starting with the Clarion Free Library.

“That’s basically where I spent my childhood, and that’s where I learned my love of reading and writing,” she said.

Next on the list is Jefferson-Clarion Head Start Inc., the governing body for child and family development programs in the two counties of northwest central Pennsylvania.

“It’s a perfect solution for them, as one of their goals over the next few years is to get books into the hands of children they can own,” Rak said. “Through their experience and teaching, they have learned that when children have their own books, they become more engaged in them. Their chances of becoming lifelong readers and learners are really increasing.

She also works with teachers at Head Start on lesson plans that match the books and relate to the state’s early childhood learning standards: scientific thinking, language and literacy, creative play learning, health and well-being, and social studies and cultural learning.

“We are delighted to offer these books and their programs to our teachers,” said Pam Johnson, executive director of the association. “I know they will love the books and activities that have been created around them, and I know our children will love them too and learn a lot from each other. They are easy to understand, enjoyable and engaging, which will make them very effective learning tools.

A goal beyond Head Start is to secure funding from a foundation or society to provide all children in Clarion and Jefferson counties with copies of the two books Rak has published so far, with an initial goal of 700.

Book signing

Pam Selker Rak signs copies of her first children’s book, “Sassafras Tea”.

The titles are “Sassafras Tea” and “Christmas Treedition,” and writing them – two more books are also in the works for next year – is a relatively new activity for the author, who owns a marketing company called CommuniTech LLC.

“When we were in quarantine last year, work had practically stopped for me. So that gave me a lot of time to be creative, ”she recalls. “I just started to write a bunch of little poetry stories about my youth, my childhood in Clarion, the little traditions I had with my father, mother and children in my neighborhood.”

With the encouragement of his family members, Rak decided to put the stories into book form.

“It’s not something I was interested in making money,” she said. “It was a creative outlet, a fun little project.”

During this time, her experience with the completion of Leadership Pittsburgh, an educational program for high-level leaders, prompted her to funnel profits to worthy causes.

“I can’t talk enough about this program,” Rak said. “It really changed my life in so many different ways. It made me think of the community from such a different perspective.

“I’ve always been focused on my business and growing the business,” she continued, “but I never really made the connection on how I might bring that kind of leadership into the world. community and have an impact on it. “

She decided to start with Clarion because of her personal connections, and also because she recognizes some of the disadvantages of rural areas compared to large cities and their suburbs.

“Let’s face it. They’re not the same,” she said. “And trying to go the extra mile to level the playing field a bit is really important.”

Pam selker rak

Pam Selker Rak is a resident of the Township of Peters and a business owner.


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