Monica Clark
Staten Island, New York
Operations analyst, 34

Her dream:
In search of selections for her book club, Clark became frustrated by the lack of bookstores for African-Americans in her area: "I kept asking myself, Isn't there a place for readers like me?"

Dreaming big, Clark decided to fill the void by opening her own bookstore—though having never run a business, she was hungry for entrepreneurial guidance.

How we made the connection:
Felecia Wintons, owner of Books for Thought in Tampa, is a trailblazer in the world of African-American bookselling and had plenty of hard-won advice to share with Clark.

After talking to Wintons about publishers, distributors, and the thrill of starting a business—plus weeks of planning on her own—Clark is set to open Read About It in Staten Island this September.

Monica Clark wanted to open a bookstore for African-American readers in her New York neighborhood. We introduced her to Felecia Wintons, the owner of Books for Thought in Tampa. She advised Clark to make sure the demand was there (it was) and to accumulate money to rent a storefront (she is) before creating the space she envisions (she will). For the time being, Clark is running a mail-order book business from home. She arranged to meet with Robert Stein, an advisor at the Small Business Development Center at the College of Staten Island, for help with a business plan. "I believe in Miracles, but can face reality," Clark says.

 Gretchen Bernatz
Ellwood City, Pennsylvania
Student, 24

Her dream: "I've been studying the trumpet since I was 12, and for as long as I can remember I've wanted to play with a professional orchestra," Bernatz wrote to O, The Oprah Magazine.

Would this trumpeter's turn at center stage change the world or save lives? Nah. But would it be fun? You bet.

How we made the connection:
Just 40 miles from Bernatz's house is Pittsburgh Symphony Heinz Hall, where composer-conductor Marvin Hamlisch graciously invited Bernatz to join his horn section on October 10, 2002, for a PNC/Pittsburgh Symphony Pops concert.

Bernatz was speechless when O, The Oprah Magazine called with the news but soon caught her breath so she could practice for her debut.

Gretchen Bernatz longed to play the trumpet with a professional orchestra. We made a call to Marvin Hamlisch, principal conductor of the PNC/Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, and in October she performed with the group. "It was so fantastic," says Bernatz, of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. "Mr. Hamlisch introduced me to the audience, and my teacher surprised me by coming to watch." Bernatz plans to audition for local symphonies in the spring.


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