Tina Hebert’s spirit is made up of two main components – the spirit of art and the spirit of giving. This has created for her the ability to navigate a path that was not void of suffering. Today, the New Iberia native is teaching children about caring for others through her book, “Rebuilding the Cajun Way.”
What were your first experiences in helping others? Mostly in my church and in ministries. I’ve always had a spirit of serving; it’s just in my personality. I had a dance school for a time and through that I got to make a difference in children’s lives. I wanted to teach them to believe in themselves.
In what other ways were you able to serve through dance? I was approached by St. Edward, and later by Catholic High, to teach liturgical dance. They wanted all children to take advantage of the art of dance. They would feel so special about themselves, and it was there way of worshipping as well.
Tell me about the Cortland Fund. For five years I played the woman at the well at a retreat for people who were grieving the loss of a loved one – never knowing that I would lose a son. It’s what prepared me for the loss of my son Cortland in 2008. After his death I prayed, and I woke up and I told my husband that I didn’t understand it, but God wanted us to start a fund for children in Cortland’s honor. Through the Cortland Fund we grant different nonprofits with donations to help children in a number of ways. We chose to honor Cortland’s memory by helping the causes we knew would bring healing and life to children and ultimately, to families.
Was that experience an inspiration for your book? After he passed away, Cortland’s friends brought us a scripture, James 1:12 (Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will received the crown of life that the Lord has promised.) We clung to that scripture. When I started writing this book, I had no idea it was related. It wasn’t until I started working with my illustrator that I realized it was a story about preservation.
What lesson can children learn from “Rebuilding the Cajun Way”? Healing comes to us through hard work and by coming together. Through helping others, we are the ones who are blessed. I believe that great things can happen when people come together and when we stand firm in what really matters. We must always hold true to the virtues of faith, hope and love. Hopefully, this little book will be a tool to reach out to children and their families who have been affected by hardship. I believe it can cross borders, and not only help people suffering with such circumstances, but having any struggles in general.
What are some of your other involvements? I’m part of a few retreat teams, Rachel’s Vineyard, Come to the Well and Theresians International. I’m also associated with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s Association, American Christian Fiction Writers and the Catholic Writers Guild. My passion these days is really my book. I get to go into schools across the state and teach children about the Cajun culture and about faith and love, the international language.