RAIMONDA BUTKUS was 10 years old when her family defected from Lithuania to the United States to begin a new life.
In 1972, Raimonda arrived in Chicago with her stepfather, Zigmas Butkus; her mother, Danute Butkus; her sister, Loretta, 11; and her brother, Rimvydas, 3. Plans for the move to the United States were unknown to the children and relatives. The family left not knowing whether they would see relatives again.
Twenty-four years later -- Soviet domination of her country having ended -- Raimonda can send letters and visit relatives in Lithuania. She can tell them about her life in Hampstead, about her husband, James Mikatavage, her daughter, Brigita, and her work as a medical company representative.
She has returned to Lithuania, too, between the covers of her book, "Your Journey to Success, A Guide for Young Lithuanians." Raimonda believes her book is the first self-improvement book written in America by a Lithuanian-American for Lithuanians.
Since Nov. 20, "Your Journey to Success" has been available on bookshelves in Lithuania. It is published by Leidykia Sviesa, that country's third-largest publisher of textbooks.
An avid reader of self-help literature, Raimonda collected thoughts and phrases, interviews and research for seven years and organized the 184-page book to guide her countrymen to a prosperous future.
Raimonda, aware of a slim audience for an English edition of her book, set up her own publishing company, Melodija Books, and published the book in March. She has marketed the book at Lithuanian-American events on the East Coast and has sold enough copies to more than cover her expenses.
The book is available by mail. To order, write to: Melodija Books, P.O. Box 689, Hampstead 21074. The cost is $14.95 per book plus $3 shipping and handling.
"I wanted to encourage young people to create a beautiful life for themselves where they are," she said. "As young Lithuanians, no matter where we live, our happiness and success depend upon the life choices and decisions we make."
She discourages thoughts of emigration, spelling out the difficulties of cultural adaptation in America.
In her book, she advises: "You will be trading old problems for new ones. You have invested a lot of time and energy building a life in Lithuania. You could find personal success right where you are."
Her book encourages emotional and spiritual rebuilding, using techniques of positive thinking and visualizing. Her recipe for a good life includes setting personal goals, doing fulfilling work, improving relationships and spiritual growth.
"Through reading and research, I felt these areas were worth recommending to pursue for one's quality of life," she said.
Her humorous touch on themes in the book has found a growing readership. A pile of fan mail has begun to build.
"I achieved a dream, working on a book and seeing it come out in Lithuania. With this book, I'm trying to encourage others to achieve their dreams," she said.
In June, she accepted a post as a weekly advice columnist for Dirva, a Lithuanian-language newspaper published in Cleveland.
Another book, a resource guide for modern refugees, is in the wings. Information: 374-5160.
Barbie doll raffle
On Saturday, a lucky someone will win a mint-condition Holiday Barbie.
Jamie Ridgely will draw the winning raffle ticket at 3 p.m. at the Manchester Town Office, 3208 York St.
The 11-year-old hopes to sell 300 $1 tickets for the doll. At last count, she was getting close to her goal. She plans to donate the money to the Northeast Social Action Project, a nonprofit group that provides food, clothing and other essentials to the needy of northwest Carroll.
Jamie, who lives in Manchester, performs charitable works throughout the year. She is collecting nonperishable food, toys and warm coats for the needy this winter. Information: 239-3953.
Pub Date: 12/11/96