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Letters to Our Daughters authors will speak at Foundation lunch

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Molly Davis, left, and Kristine Van Raden are mothers, daughters, best friends and authors of “Letters to Our Daughters.” The duo will be the featured speakers at the annual Lake Oswego School District Foundation Lunch-eon Feb. 7.

Through the ups and downs of life - marriage, kids, divorce, aging parents and kids - there's one aspect of Molly Davis and Kristine Van Raden's journey that hasn't wavered.

For 35 years, since meeting through a mutual friend, the women's commitment to each other is so strong it even trickles down to their daughters, who are also close friends.

'We've been through a lot, honestly,' Davis said. 'There are times when knowing she's on the planet helps keep me going.'

Their relationship also keeps business fun. Ten years ago, the women co-edited 'Letters to Our Daughters,' a compilation of 40 letters from mothers to their daughters from around the world.

The book has sold about 100,000 copies and was featured on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' Its release was followed by a national promotional tour in Nordstroms stores that has led the duo to continue giving presentations about what truly matters.

Van Raden and Davis, both 54, will be the featured speakers at the annual Lake Oswego School District Foundation luncheon Feb. 7 at the Oswego Lake Country Club.

In the past, they've brought their message to corporate, non-profit and mother-daughter events, including the National Charity League.

'We began culling our own experiences as moms, daughters and friends and combine that with the wisdom and the learning that took place from all the remarkable women we've met,' Davis said. 'The result is the idea that 'Matters Matter.''

Van Raden, a sculptor, is currently pursuing a masters in fine arts. She is the mother of two daughters, stepmother to a daughter and son, and lives with her husband and family near Hillsboro.

Davis is a writer, consultant, and speaker with 16 years experience in the corporate sector, most recently as a human resources manager. She and her two daughters, two stepdaughters, and husband live in Ridgefield, Wash.

They are both in the process of building homes near Hood River, where they will live closer to each other than ever before.

'We talk on the phone each day and try to see each other at least every two weeks,' Van Raden said. 'We've told people the work we do is really an excuse for room service and your best friend.'

Their presentation aims to inspire and encourage women to reflect on who they are and what they value, then take those ideas and use them in everyday life.

'As we move forward, the heart of the message hasn't changed,' Davis said. 'It evolves with new experiences, where we are in life and the people we meet.'

The message to the foundation and its supporters, for example, will focus on the importance of education in young peoples' lives.

'We want to help young people understand what matters to them at an earlier age than some of us did and live their lives accordingly, rather than being schlepped along with pop culture,' Davis said.

Van Raden and Davis will also sign copies of 'Letters to Our Daughters,' a project they thought up during a weekend spent together on the Oregon Coast.

'We were looking out at the rainy coast talking about the first 40 years of our lives and what had been important to us and how we could look forward to the next chapter,' Davis said. 'We realized we could have this conversation with any mom anywhere and they would relate to it.'

Thus, the project took form and began by a solicitation of more than 200 letters from across the world. Within a year, Beyond Words out of Portland published the book. It is now in its third U.S. printing and is translated into various languages.

The letters from mothers to their daughters express the uniqueness of their relationship and words of wisdom for the future. At the back of the book, the authors invite the reader to submit their own letter to their daughter.

Davis' letter to her daughters Haley and Lauren, for example, tells of her difficult choice to leave a long-term marriage and the joy and strength she found in being a single parent.

'Young people are so challenged today,' Van Raden said. 'There's a sense of hopelessness in the lives of young people. It's an overwhelming time, so we want to encourage them to hold on to themselves and not be defeated.'

Strong friendships are a huge part of surmounting obstacles, they said.

'It's a lonely world to navigate, we can see that,' Van Raden said. 'Life is hard but it is easier navigated with a friend and people you love.'

The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. A raffle drawing will also be included.

Tickets are $35 per person or $270 for a reserved table (seats eight). For reservations, please call 503-534-2302 or pick up a mail-in form at any school in the Lake Oswego School District.