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Local author helps children through the ‘hard stuff’

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    Alyssa Cathers reads her first book, “Anxious Abby and The Camp Trust Challenge,” to her children Joshua, 7; Hannah, 9; and Grace, 6. The kids are holding The Worries, a set of 11 stuffed creatures that are featured in the book and sewn by Amanda Bowling. Frankie and Abby have returned in Cathers’ newest project, which is a workbook for children affected by the 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app to see a video. STACI L. GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    The cover design for “Help for the Hard Stuff” by Alyssa Cathers.

Published March 29. 2018 12:29PM

A Lehighton author has created a workbook for children affected by the 2017 hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Alyssa Cathers and her pro bono team of illustrator Beth Snider, graphic designer Tamara Dever and editor Jennifer Goodson have finished “Abby and Frankie’s Help for the Hard Stuff — Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters.”

“I wanted to create resources for children that would point them to Jesus and God’s word for help and comfort during the hard times,” said Cathers, a home-school teacher and biblical counselor at Foundations Christian Counseling in Brodheadsville.

Abby and Frankie are characters from her first book, “Anxious Abby and the Camp Trust Challenge,” published in 2017. It’s a storybook with colorful illustrations, available online at for purchase.

When Abby goes off to softball camp, she takes along a backpack full of 11 Worries, including Panic, Fear of the Dark, Lonely and Getting Sick. With help from her friend Frankie, campers, Coach C and God, she learns how to let go of her worries. By the end of the book, she is Adventurous Abby.

As Cathers watched news coverage of the hurricanes and the families affected, she knew she wanted to do something. She wondered how Abby and Frankie would feel watching from afar when the storm hit and affected friends they met on a recent mission trip. How could they help reduce their friends’ worries?

Cathers called up her team from the storybook and pitched her idea for a workbook about how to deal with hurricanes and natural disasters.

“When she approached me about this one, there was no hesitation to climb on board. I was eager to start and giddy about the cause,” said Dever, founder and creative director of TLC Graphics. “Living in Austin, we witnessed Harvey hit the coast, watched the flooding live on our local news, and know people who were affected firsthand.”

The workbook contains four sections: Abby and Frankie’s dialogue, Counselor Clips featuring advice from Cathers, Bible Connections, and Your Turn activities such as drawing, writing, and scrapbooking.

“Alyssa has such a great heart for children and desire to help those in need. She has such a love for the Lord,” said Fred Jacoby, executive director of Foundations Christian Counseling.

The book deals with questions kids might have for God. Cathers sought feedback and conceptual help from colleagues Jacoby and Lisa Landrud, as well as Pastor Nathan and Katie Kennedy of Ebenezer Evangelical Congregational Church.

The workbook is meant for parents and children to complete together. They can heal as a family as they put the devastating events behind them.

“Using our talents to help others is our ministry, and we love that Alyssa’s book will reach those tender hearts who may be struggling to make sense of the tragedy around them,” Dever said.

Cathers has had the utmost support from her family — husband Glen, their children 9-year-old Hannah, 7-year-old Joshua, 6-year-old Grace, and grown daughter Angelica Bollman.

“I am very proud of her. I think these books will help with my worries,” Hannah Cathers said.

She has a fear of the unknown and something devastating happening to her parents.

The three children drew cards with words of encouragement, which appear as a graphic in the workbook.

Joshua Cathers wrote his card as if he were Frankie, and it says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Hannah Cathers’ card is from Abby and says, “I am sorry you went through this. Jesus is close to you.”

Grace Cathers added her own special cross and flower to the cards.

The children are also raising money for the printing costs. They have given hard-earned chore money and loose change to their mom. They have sponsored 10 books so far.

“It’s nice to watch kids helping kids,” Cathers said.

In March, they will go with mom to elementary schools to be part of a 45-minute interactive storytelling session and demonstration of how to lessen the weight of worries inside your backpack.

For props, Cathers uses The Worries, a set of 11 stuffed creatures that are featured in the two books and were sewn by Amanda Bowling.

“My main goal is to get God’s truth into the hands of children in ways they can understand and help them through the hard stuff in life,” Cathers said. “I want to change their thoughts to more hopeful ones.”

Each workbook costs approximately $5 to print. She needs to raise $4,000 to go to press. She is seeking sponsorship from businesses and community members.

She has one business sponsor so far: Duane Moyer Well Drilling Inc. of Lehighton.

She is also looking for someone to distribute the workbook. It will be available in English and Spanish.

If you would like to support Alyssa in her effort to print “Help for the Hard Stuff” workbooks for the children who have been affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, you can give online at Checks can be made out to Foundations Counseling with the memo line “Help for the Hard Stuff” and sent to: Foundations Christian Counseling, Rainbow Plaza, 1546 Route 209, Suite 106, Brodheadsville, PA 18322. All donations are tax deductible.

Interested business sponsors can email Alyssa at

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