It’s been 19 years since the story of Irena Sendler, the rescuer from death of 2,500 Jews in Poland, was discovered by three Uniontown High School students in Norm Conard’s history class. The Jews were being killed in Europe by the Nazi Germans.
“It was September 23, 1999, when we found the clipping that day in Norm’s class,” Megan Felt said. That clipping mentioned Sendler as one of a few people in Europe at the time who stepped up to save the Jews.
The students, Elizabeth Cambers Hutton, and Sabrina Coons Murphy along with Felt, did a history project on Irena Sendler that changed the lives of many, including Sendler who was still living at the time.
Now one of the “rescuers of the rescuer”, Megan Stewart Felt, is featured in a book on Sendler that features she and her daughter, Blair, in re-telling the story for younger children.
The children’s book, self-published by the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, is entitled Mommy Who Was Irena Sendler?, by Cathy Werling.
Werling is an employee of the center and Felt is the program director of the center, located at Wall and Main Street in downtown Fort Scott.
“Cathy surprised me with her idea of telling the story,” Felt said. “I think it’s special to tell about Irena, involving my daughter, Blair.”
Blair, who is 8-years-old, is “very excited,” Felt said. “She has been practicing her cursive handwriting to sign books for the family,” she said with a smile.
While Werling was writing the book, Blair came to the center and got a tour from Werling.
“I hadn’t told her much about Irena and the holocaust,” Felt said.
Werling explained the story in a way that Blair could understand, Felt said.
“We continued to have conversations about Irena and…. how one person can make a difference,” Felt said. “I want her to know that even though she is a girl in Southeast Kansas, she has the power to make a difference and being a positive change in the world. That’s the goal of the center.”
“When I got involved with the center, I found the work of the center is to help people understand that one person can make a difference,” she said.
“Young children need role models to show what you can do in circumstances where someone needs to step up,” Werling said.
“If we can help them be a positive force, that’s my mission, to see that,” she said. “Everyday people like them that can have a powerful impact.
Mommy Who Was Irena Sendler? is the third book that Werling has written on unsung heroes at the center.
Area elementary students come to the center for book readings at their appropriate level.
The children are then encouraged to choose to make a difference in someone’s life.
“It’s moving to see the little kids become involved in the stories on unsung heroes,” Felt said. “You hear them saying ‘I saw a little girl who sits alone. I can sit with her.'”
Werling uses a “hook” in her children’s books to get the child interested, then the story is told, the book ends with how the child can “be like that person,” Werling said.
In her latest book, Werling has additional pages of facts on the story, including photos.
“I want them to understand that the story is true,” Werling said.
The illustrator of the book is Maggie Raguse, Werling’s sister-in-law, who is a professional artist.
The book Mommy Who Was Irena Sendler? will be published by the end of October 2018, then will be for sale at the center, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble bookstores, Werling said.