Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) was a native Daytonian who made millions laugh with her down to earth humor. She worked as a copy girl at the local newspaper as a way to finance her education at the University of Dayton. She began her writing career as a columnist for the Kettering-Oakwood Times and then with the Dayton Journal Herald. Her column became nationally syndicated, at one time entertaining readers of more than 900 papers with her wry observations on family life. CONTRIBUTED

Family donation propels Bombeck Writers’ Workshop

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, named for the late humor writer who was beloved and popular around the world, is held every other year on the campus of the University of Dayton, Bombeck’s alma mater.

The workshop draws about 350 writers from around the country and typically sells out quickly, says Teri Rizvi, who is executive director of communication strategies at the University of Dayton and founder of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

The workshop — the only one in the United Stated devoted to both humor and human-interest writing — launched in the year 2000.

In the fall of 2016, the workshop received a $20,000 challenge gift from an anonymous donor. Workshop organizers quickly launched a drive to match it.

The challenge was more than met.

The Bombeck family made a $20,000 gift through the Arizona Community Foundation as part of the workshop’s first major fundraising campaign.

“The University of Dayton, and now the Writers’ Workshop, are both a part of our mom’s legacy. What better way to honor her then to help support writers from across the country to learn, to laugh and be inspired,” said Matt Bombeck, Erma’s son and a screenwriter in Los Angeles, according to a workshop news release.

The campaign’s $61,550 total includes gifts from major donors, approximately 100 writers, faculty, keynoters and friends of the workshop who stepped forward to support the workshop. All funds will be used to help keep the nationally renowned workshop affordable for writers and support programming, Rizvi said.

Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) was a native Daytonian who made millions laugh with her down-to-earth humor. She worked as a copy girl at the local newspaper as a way to finance her education at the University of Dayton. She began her writing career as a columnist for the Kettering-Oakwood Times and then with the Dayton Journal Herald. Her column became nationally syndicated, at one time entertaining readers of more than 900 papers with her wry observations on family life. She wrote 12 books, some of which made it to the best-seller list.

“We’re so grateful to all of our supporters, but particularly the Bombeck family for their generous show of faith in the workshop we started together in 2000. Their devotion to sustaining Erma’s legacy is inspiring. The family’s presence at every workshop reminds us that this is a legacy worth preserving,” Rizvi said. About the donors, she adds, “I’m thankful for their belief in the power of this workshop to inspire and encourage writers. Erma found that same inspiration and encouragement while a student at the University of Dayton, where she first heard three life-changing words from her English professor, ‘You can write!’”

The University of Dayton’s Alumni Association underwrites the cost of scholarships that allow between 25 and 30 University of Dayton students to attend the workshop for free. The University of Dayton’s Human Resources Office provides 10 scholarships for faculty and staff.

The next workshop is slated for April 5-7, 2018. Learn more at www.humorwriters.org.

Upcoming Literary Events

• “Breaking Bad Writing with ‘Breaking Bad,’” Word’s Worth Writing Center, Thursdays Feb. 2-March 2, 6:30-8:30 p.m. — Author and creative writing teacher Katrina Kittle (www.katrinakittle.com) will lead this class inspired by the popular, award-winning television show “Breaking Bad.” Students are not required to have watched the series. Each night of this five-week course, the class will view and focus on an iconic scene from the show, and will use those scenes to analyze the use of dialogue, character arc, symbolism, foreshadowing, character voice, and plot techniques, with the goal of applying lessons learned to writing projects. The class will be held in the community room of the Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton. Learn more and register at www.wordsworthdayton.com

• Antioch Writers’ Workshop, LitSalon Fundraiser with Author Tim Wagonner, Feb. 12, 4-7 p.m.—The workshop (www.antiochwritersworkshop.com) has opened registration to its next LitSalon Fundraiser, featuring award-winning and prolific horror, fantasy and science fiction author Tim Wagonner. (www.timwaggoner.com). The event will be held at the home of the workshop’s board president, Kate Geiselman. All proceeds from LitSalon fundraisers help support the workshop’s summer program scholarships and Young Writers program. Learn more and register via the workshop’s website.

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