SYRACUSE - Life has taught Michele Boy that a little Magic goes a long way.
From New York City to western Kansas, Magic was Michele's traveling companion in the form of the German shepherd she adopted just before the abandoned dog was about to be euthanized at an animal shelter. Then, when Magic got lonely, another dog, Whiskey, was rescued to keep him company.
Like magic, after she adopted the two dogs, Michele's life began to change. She evolved from a single, self-absorbed career woman to a current farm wife, mother, and city commissioner of Syracuse.
Boy, a graduate of Queens College, N.Y., is also a writer. She tells the story of her evolution in the essay "A Little Magic," published in the current "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back."
The latest in the "Chicken Soup" series is filled with stories about passionate volunteers who find purpose and meaning in life through charitable work. The stories are about transformation, including Michele's transition from tiring of city life and all its hassles to transplanting first in Arizona, then on to making her home in Kansas.
"Small towns always need volunteers," Boy wrote in the essay. "And someone who had no obligation besides work was an easy target. I helped at everything - the county fair, the alumni lunch, a local church. ... It was social, community-oriented work. And I loved it! I came home tired yet satisfied. I helped people enjoy themselves. Funny enough, I enjoyed it more than if I had been a guest."
It was while volunteering that her life changed. She met her husband, Hamilton County farmer Heath Boy, during a Relay for Life event. Then, several years into their marriage, Michele Boy was volunteering at a substance abuse treatment center when the couple adopted a child through a woman she'd met.
Days are hectic. Boy stays busy helping her husband on their family farm, plus keeping up with their daughter, who is almost 4. She still makes time for developing her writing skills. She pens blogs for Kansasagland.com and has been busy lately editing a murder-mystery she completed, some of it while her daughter napped.
However, Boy was submitting work and having it rejected and beginning to think about throwing in the towel. Just as she was having her doubts, she got an email that her essay had been accepted. A bonus was the paycheck that came with the acceptance.
"Chicken Soup for the Soul" has been publishing inspirational books for the past 22 years. Currently, there are more than 100 million books sold, with more than 250 titles, and translations across 40 languages.
Meanwhile, the topic of volunteerism hasn't been lost on the community. Boy had a book signing at the Hamilton County Library, with proceeds from book sales going to the remodeling of the local veterans' building.
Another event is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Mountain time Sept. 21 at the Hamilton County Fair Building when the library hosts a "Soup for the Soul Community Supper." Boy will sign books, and all proceeds will go to the veterans project. The soups and cinnamon rolls will be made by the Future Community Leaders of Syracuse, which is a high school group. It all fits with the latest topic of the "Chicken Soup" book, said Joyce Armstrong, library director.
"Two cool things came from this," Boy said. "My friends who bought the book are reading it to their children and their children are saying, 'Mommy, I want to be a writer.' "
Others have told her they have dreams and Boy has inspired them to take those dreams off the shelf.
"Dust them off," she said. "If I could do it, they could do it. I hope this would encourage others to get out of their comfort zone."