RANDOLPH – The Family Promise of Morris County held “An Evening of Promise: Recongnizing Volunteers and Community Service” on Thursday, March 26 at Meadow Wood Manor, Randolph.
Nine year old Benjamin Colao was honored for the “Community Impact Award.” The award and ciation by Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, Esq. was presented to Benjamin by Barry Schnidler, Esq. from Greenberg Traurig, the event’s sponsor for the past ten years.
Benjamin Colao of Madison is completing his sixth non-fiction book and has raised more than $3,000 for Family Promise. Each book sells for $5.00.
He has taken his passion for reading, writing and interest in influential people and turned them into stories for children, not to make a profit for his pocket, but to raise funds to help others who are less fortunate.
All proceeds go to Family Promise of Morris County, an organization that helps local families that are struggling and homeless. Ben may be on the list as one of the youngest non-fiction writers and philanthropists just yet. With all the causes out there, being without a dwelling hits home for Ben.
Without a home, there’s nothing you can do, says Ben, fourth grader. It’s really hard without a home. If he could afford a homeless shelter for the homeless he would grab it, but until then he will continue his research and write his books for a cause.
At one point, Ben wanted to walk around New York and hand out money to the homeless, says Ben’s mom, DanaLynn Colao. But then I reminded him we have homeless people here. So they learned about Family Promise of Morris County, and chose that organization to support as a means to help the homeless.
An avid reader since he was in the first grade, Ben became more intent with writing two years later. In May 2014 when he was in the third grade, Ben wrote two mini biography stories for his class, both were about two to three pages. One was on Harry Houdini and the other on Walt Disney.
That summer he decided he wanted to do something more with those books, so in August 2014 he expanded his books, typed them into about 10 pages each. He self-published his books and created PPB (Poor People’s Books) but then switched that name to OPB (Our People’s Books), since the books are for everyone. He wrote two more books, one on Steve Jobs and the other on George Washington.
With each biography, he talks about what their mark was or their creation. Unlike other biographies, to me it’s different, explains Ben, I’m making them as a nine-year old and I’m doing it for a cause, completely non-profit and all going to charity.
Besides raising money to help others, Ben also wants to show others that with a lot of effort they can make a difference.
As the oldest of three, Ben has been a great role model so far to his brothers, Evan, 7, and Ryan, 3.
At a book signing, sale event in December 2014, in Madison, Ben sold 50 books, raised $400 and was awarded the “Brilliant Humanity Award” by Madison Mayor Robert Conley. Children’s fiction writer Dan Gutman was also there signing books. One family friend bought 100 copies of Ben’s books and sent them to hospitals and special needs schools.
All soft cover copies, Ben sells his books for $5.00. His good friend, George Csatlos, 10, is his illustrator; and other 10-year old friend Henrik Hamilton, writes his comics.
Looking ahead, Ben’s mom is hoping to create a 501 non-profit organization with Benís books. He has more biographies he would like to write, but may expand his genre down the road.
I’ve always been into biographies and people, says Ben. I thought biographies would be efficient and good quality. I do lots and lots of research. I sit with four or five books about the topic then reveal what I recall.
Ben also wrote a book about sharks, plans to write one about Halloween and even attempt some fiction books.
Benís books are available by emailing him at email@example.com to order.
Serving Morris County since 1988, Family Promise of Morris County is dedicated to ending the crisis of homelessness by partnering with public and private agencies, congregations and community volunteers to provide shelter, case management, and mentoring services leading to self-sufficiency.