From being homeless to becoming a children's author

Eddie Engram, 68, uses life story to shape children's futures

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – On the first floor of the Orange County Public Library in downtown Orlando, Eddie Engram's voice can't help but carry with pride through the quiet children's section as he shows off one of his children's books, "Phillip Willing Howard III," which anyone can check out. 

Engram's story started out rough 23 years ago, when he found himself homeless, living out of his car at a rest stop off Interstate 4 with no job. 

"I was homeless, but I always had to have a job, and that job was to find work," Engram said inside a  room in the library. 

Even though it was the toughest chapter of his life, he never let being homeless define him. 

"I always said there was a way out," Engram said. "I went to Barnett Park one morning, early one morning and took my ironing board out and in one of the pavilions, washed it with cold water and went out looking for work." 

That eventually led to the next chapter, which paid off. 

One morning, Engram went to a job fair where he landed a job with OrangeTV - Orange County's Government TV station. 

Engram said he started as a volunteer, then part-time, and eventually he started getting paychecks. 

"I did this in the military, in the Air Force, that's where I got started," Engram said. "My last duty squadron was a TV squadron."

Engram also volunteers and mentors students through the school district and reads to children at Head Start. 

It was when he was volunteering with children at an event at the University of Central Florida that he got the idea to write a children's book. 

"The school took the kids to UCF to teach them how to write books," Engram said. "I said, 'You know what? I can do that myself' and guess what? I could do that myself."

And Engram already had his story, "Man of Wonder."

The book ends with these lines: 

"Being a man of wonder you see is a man in life I chose to be, I woke up one day and I said, 'Hopray! I have found a place in life for me'. Some of us chose and some of us are given, still some of us fail to make no decisions. Being a man of wonder you see is a man in life I chose for me."

"That's me, that's who I am today," Engram said. 

Engram just wrapped up his fifth children's book, each of them tackling topics such as how to handle peer pressure or dealing with responsibilities, with a life lesson in the end. 

"That's what I want people to understand in my books," Engram said. "You can be whatever you want to be in life, but you just had to believe first in yourself."  

You can check out Engram's books at any Orange County Public Library. They are also for sale at Amazon and can be ordered from your local bookstore. 

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