Atlanta Family Sells House, Donates Half Proceeds to Charity

Last Updated Feb 15, 2010 1:53 PM EST

Sometimes it takes your kids to make you re-evaluate your life. That was the case with the Salwen family of Atlanta, a family of four that lived in a 6,500-square-foot Ansley Park mansion until their 14-year-old daughter pointed out that their overconsumption was "totally lame."

That epiphany started a family project to sell the house -- which has three Viking stoves in the kitchen alone -- and downsize into something smaller, with half the proceeds going to a family-picked charity, The Hunger Project.

Now the Salwens have a new book, "The Power of Half," which talks about their remarkable act of giving several hundred thousand dollars to charity.

The parents are professionals, with Joan a twenty-year veteran of Accenture and Kevin having been a writer at The Wall Street Journal. To me, the most interesting part of the story is that they had already been involved in charity work, with Kevin Salwen on the board of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity and Joan Salwen a Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentor. However, they made the decision that that wasn't enough.

Since it's the kids themselves that were the agents of change, I invite you to watch "Hannah's Lunchbox," a video by her teenage brother Joseph.

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  • Alison Rogers

    Since graduating from Harvard summa cum laude, Alison Rogers has been a reporter, an editor, a real-estate agent, a Wall Street desk jockey, a columnist, a failed flipper, and a landlady. A member of the National Association of Realtors, she currently sells and rents luxury co-ops in Manhattan for the Chelsea-based firm DG Neary. (If you've got $27,500 a month, the firm has an apartment for you!) Her book, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, was called "a valuable guide for rookie buyers" by AOL/Walletpop, "beach-read fun" by the New York Observer, and "witty" by Newsweek.