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CCF's General Manager
by staff writer, Use the "Contact Us" link/form to reach Olgy
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Olgy Gary is the founder and general manager of Children Come First. Originally from Cuba, Ms. Gary brings her enthusiasm and love of learning to all she does. In this interview she talks about her passion in life: to cultivate the love of learning among children and their families.

Tell us about yourself
Where did your love of books come from?
What is Children Come First?
Any other work you do thru CCF?
What led you to start CCF?
What is your vision for the CCF web site?
Is there a way for your visitors to help accomplish this vision?
What's this we hear about you shrinking in size these days?
What are your personal dreams for the coming months?
Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you online?

Tell us about yourself
Olgy Gary, CCF's General Manager
I have been a bookaholic ever since I can remember. I love books!!!! I love to read them, browse through them, hold them, admire the illustrations and marvel at the prose. After high school I attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and graduated with a B.A. in Geology. Then I went to graduate school at GaTech where I received an "Mrs." degree. Later on I graduated from Cal-State-L.A. with an M.A. in Education. Jay and I have been married since 1978 and have a son and daughter.

I'm an educator, author, full SCBWI member, Pen Woman, wife and mother. I'm originally from Cuba and thankful to have found a home in the USA after we were forced to leave our homeland. I looovvveee reading and writing. Topics I enjoy talking about: reading, writing, education, kids, family and, of course, Cuba... "The Island Of My Heart." That's the title of the middle grade novel I'm working on. I've set up an IOMH group at myspace and would love to have you visit with me there as well. smile

ChildrenComeFirst is the educational nonprofit I manage. I'd love for you to subscribe to our free electronic bulletin and participate in our online writing contests [Top of PageTop of Page]

Where did your love of books come from?
image of the island of Cuba
In Cuba books were my window to the outside world, the world beyond the repressive communist government I found myself living under. It was about that time that I fell in love with fairy tales. They gave me permission to dream impossible dreams...of one day being able to live in a land where freedom was a reality. I left Cuba when I was 12 years old and my parents and us 6 girls went to live in New Jersey. I wrote a little bit more about this when posting to the CCF site the keynote address Tad Williams gave at a Hugo Awards Ceremony. I titled the introduction as: "Science Fiction Writers...Dream Forward," as those were the very words Williams used in his talk. [Top of PageTop of Page]

What is Children Come First?
Children Come First is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit corporation dedicated to cultivating a life-long love of learning among children and their families.
Children Come First logo image
Its purpose is to enrich the education of children as society's greatest asset in the 21st century and work with groups which are organized and operated for similar purposes. This work may take the form of publishing educational materials, conducting training workshops, or producing special events such as simulation game presentations, author talks, writing groups, or reading clubs. In the past we've teamed up with the Olympic Training Center, Gold Prospectors of Colorado, and other nonprofit groups as well as many local authors to bring these programs to schools. [Top of PageTop of Page]

Any other work you do thru CCF?
fun zone signEvery year I also work directly with publishers editing, translating, ghostwriting and desktop publishing books for them. We also offer web design, hosting, and site maintenance thru CCF. One highlight of my writing career is The Luna Game and also The Kampei Game. I wrote and designed these and other cross-cultural simulation games as part of my M.A. in Instructional Design at Cal-State L.A. Both games have been played by several hundred thousand people worldwide--we stopped keeping track and collecting surveys after that. Children and their parents by the thousands played them and wrote to tell me about it. Hardly a month goes by without someone writing and asking how they can get a hold of either game. We're working with a publisher to see The Luna Game come back into print in the near future. The Kampei Game is available and distributed by and Children Come First. [Top of PageTop of Page]

What led you to start such an organization?
Garden of the Gods, Colo Spgs
When we moved to Colorado Springs in 1992 I was delighted to discover that the school systems in Colorado Springs were far superior to the private schools I couldn't afford back where we used to live. In Spanish we have a saying, "no hay mal que por bien no venga," (there's no bad thing that something good can't come out of it). The school my kids attended prior to us moving to Colorado left much to be desired. This forced me to find the very best educational materials available and use them to supplement their education after school hours. Eventually this led to my forming Children Come First, the educational corporation I manage. [Top of PageTop of Page]

What is your vision for the CCF web site?
I see the CCF website as a place where parents, writers, educators, and all those interested in the welfare of our kids' futures can visit and find useful information. Whether they're looking for award-winning lists of books for them to buy or check out from their public libraries or news on education, literacy, reading and/or the publishing world as a whole. I'd like to add hundreds of links and pages of information to the site. [Top of PageTop of Page]

help wanted signIs there a way for site's visitors to help accomplish this vision?
YES! I would love to hear from them. As they find links, web sites, news items, book reviews, and other information they think would be of interest to children, parents, teachers, writers and educators they can email CCF using our Contact Form. We will review their submissions and, whenever possible, post it to the site. [Top of PageTop of Page]

What's this we hear about you shrinking in size these days?
scaleYES! It's an ongoing journey and I am making progress. Several years ago I joined Weight Watchers Online and, for the first time in my life, witnessed tremendous progress in my own personal "battle of the bulge." I learned about portion control and balancing my food intake so as to end up with nutritional meals. I learned to read labels! Now I use FitDay to accomplish pretty much the same things I was doing through WW-online. Over the years I've managed to try just about every diet and diet pill available. The only thing I lost on those programs and "magic pills" was money and lots of it! I now realize it's not a diet I need to be on but rather a life-long journey towards health... it's a lifestyle! I'm meeting with a nutritionist and being monitored by my doctor and am enjoying staying OP (on program) and know I can keep on for the rest of my life. You can check my progress AND send me your suggestions at a special site I'm building parked behind the main CCF site. [Top of PageTop of Page]

What are your dreams for the coming months?
family walkingWhile the kids were growing up I kept a home, husband, two kids, various pets (canary, cockatiel, chinchilla, sugar glider, golden retriever, ferret and others), while managing CCF. Now that the kids are grown and the pets are gone I continue to work as an editor, translator, ghostwriter, and webmaster. I am presently working on a middle grade novel I hope to complete and send out this year. There's a fantasy book in the works as well as several nonfiction titles agents are asking for. I'm also working on a biographical novel about my mother, Dr. Maria Olga Aleu, and work on curriculum design projects with my husband from time to time.

For most of my life I've longed to write fiction. Back in high school I wrote some awesome sci-fi pieces. (They must have been awesome because my English teacher thought I'd copied them from another source!) clock hands spinning backwardsOf course I hadn't. Stories flowed from me and I thought of writing as a wonderful and freeing experience. My dream for the near future would be to free up more time for my personal writing projects. It helps to be connected with the writing world at large. I'm a full SCBWI member and served as the registrar of their Rocky Mountain Chapter when I lived in Colorado.  I actively participate in the books4children listserve, moderated by Julie Peters and myself, the PPWC and the PPW workshops and listserv. All these resources are fueling the writer's flame deep inside me. I owe muchas gracias to these groups for just being there! [Top of PageTop of Page]

Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you online?
Yes. You can catch up with me via my blog, facebook and also myspace. I blog and post as I'm able and would love to hear from visitors to any of the social networking sites I keep a profile on. I've also set up profile pages at, AmazonCONNECT, JacketFlap, and Book Organizations of Colorado. [Top of PageTop of Page]


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