December 2, 2019

Outfitting kitchens for vets!

Imagine finally making it through the front door of your new apartment after living on the streets -- and then realizing you can't even boil water because you don't have a pot. Thankfully, few of us can.

But thanks to the generosity of many, many contributors to the Francis Fund, the Kansas City VA's Voluntary Services Unit, led by Melissa Jacobson, has ordered new cookware and dinnerware for veterans and their families as they set up housekeeping -- finally! -- in their new digs.

The KCVA has housed 400 veterans through the HUD/VA Supportive Housing program. The items shown here will be distributed among them and replenished as needed.

The real holiday gift this year, I think, is to all who support this program and now see the great work being done for veterans through the KCVA and its staff and social workers.
And with a wink to Francis, an accomplished chef -- and much more.

November 30, 2019

Thank you, Kansas Sierra Club!

We appreciate the recent gift of $120 to the Francis Fund by the members of the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club-Kansas Chapter in memory of Anne H. Sommer, Francis's grandmother, who passed serenely away on Nov. 7, 2019, at 89 years young.

As of this date contributions to the Francis Fund have surpassed $30,000 -- a figure none of us could have imagined when we named the Kansas City VA's Voluntary Services Unit as a recipient of donations in honor of Francis eight years ago.

Thanks to the good work of Melissa Jacobsen and her great staff, many veterans have been given a hand up through the generosity of so many people over these past eight years.

Thank you, Sierra Club friends, for your generosity in supporting a great cause!

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

January 2, 2019

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