October 25, 2019

Losing Francis: Essays on the Wars at Home wins the Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award

Losing Francis: Essays on the Wars at Home is the recipient of the 2019 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award, sponsored by the American Association of University Women - Kansas City.

Losing Francis: Essays on the Wars at Home

August 1, 2019

‘Losing Francis: Essays on the Wars at Home' nominated for the 2019 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award.

Losing Francis: Essays on the Wars at Home has been nominated for the 2019 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award.

"Robert F. Sommer has written a remarkably compelling book with boldness and startling passion." --Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism

"Sommer’s prose often rises to the poetic, his storytelling is poignant yet never sentimental, and his unflinching honesty in relating his son’s life and death leave the reader with a lump in the throat and a righteous anger. Losing Francis will surely take its earned place in the lamentably-large library of great literature of the home front.”   —Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Oklahoma State Poet Laureate 2017-18

February 28, 2019

'Cooking with Francis' in the news

Heather's fabulous collection of Francis's log-book recipes was featured in the Shawnee Mission Post! 
Heather Sommer with her new book, Cooking with Francis: Gourmet Home Cooking, and Francis's log book for his culinary arts degree. Click the image to read the feature article in the Shawnee Mission Post about her seven-year labor of love.

January 18, 2019

‘Cooking with Francis’: a seven-year labor of love!

It's finally here, after seven years of cooking, testing, and writing Cooking with Francis: Gourmet Home Cooking, by Heather Sommer! 

Francis's mother knew how important his log-book was when he was lost — the culmination of his culinary arts degree, over 100 recipes from his classwork and years at a popular Kansas City bistro. She resized (eight gallons of pesto sauce!?) and tested every recipe for the family table, pushing herself, with no formal training, to amazing new levels of understanding food and its sources and preparation and cultural meaning. The result is a beautiful cookbook with recipes for every occasion and taste, and stories to go with many of them. Proceeds will support Heifer International and FrancisFund.org.

January 2, 2019

‘A Must-Read Narrative of US Military Family Life': A new Amazon review for ‘Losing Francis'

https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Francis-Essays-Wars-Home/dp/194438846X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520093231&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=summer+losing+francis By William M. Decker

Losing Francis: Essays on the War at Home should take its place among the most important recent narratives of US military family life. In clear, courageous, and eloquent prose, Robert Sommer documents what it’s like for parents and siblings to endure, day by day, and hour by hour, not only their loved one’s overseas tour of duty, but that loved one’s perilous return to a homeland that cannot possibly understand the veteran’s trauma and that is grossly unprepared to address the challenges of re-entry. This is a book that needs to be read by legislators and ordinary citizens who, unless they have a more or less direct link to those we have called upon to fight the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, can form no conception of the burdens our soldiers and their families are asked to bear. Losing Francis illuminates one of the great social invisibilities of contemporary American life. It should be on everyone’s list of 2018/2019 must-read titles.

November 19, 2018

Francis Fund Update

The first donations to the Francis Fund in 2011 purchased "cooking kits"
for veterans in new apartments to help set up their kitchens
with meal-ready ingredients for their first dinners.

The good works continue at the Kansas City VA’s Homeless Program, thanks to the generosity of so many people who have donated to The Francis D. Sommer Memorial Fund for Homeless Veterans in the seven years since Francis’s passing. As of this writing, contributions to the fund have reached $27,937. I often wonder what he would think of all that has been done in his memory. I’m certain amazement would be his first response.

According to Melissa Jacobson, chief of the Voluntary Service Unit at the KCVA, most of the Francis Fund donations support needs and services identified by social workers managing the Housing & Urban Development/VA Supportive Housing (HUD/VASH) program. Approximately 400 recently-homeless Kansas City veterans (both men and women, and their children) are housed through this program.

Some specific purchases made through the Francis Fund in support of these veterans include the following:
  • 100 new mattresses
  • steel-toed boots and other safety equipment, so veterans can start jobs
  • microwave ovens and crockpots
  • utility assistance
  • shoes and coats
  • groceries
  • gas
  • apartment deposits
  • workbooks for mental health treatment in community-based programs
  • pocket calendars for keeping track of appointments, rent payments, etc.
  • thrift store tokens
VA social workers, Melissa notes, “are great at finding community-based resources” in support of efforts to give these men and women a hand up, rather than a handout.

To date, over 175 individuals and community organizations have supported the Francis Fund. There’s, of course, no overhead for administration of these funds because all donations are managed by the KCVA in support of Kansas City-area veterans in need.

Thank you to all who have generously contributed to this important work!

The Sommer Family