Longview, WA---Since launching the Dolly Parton Imagination Library 10 months ago, United Way of Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties has registered more than 2,600 children, ages 0-5, or more than 40% of children in that age range in Cowlitz County. Every child receives a new free book monthly until they turn 5. The books are mailed directly to the child’s home at no charge. “What is so magical about this program is it provides access and opportunity for children regardless of economic status or where they live. These kids can count on a good book, a chance to learn and imagine, and read with a family member or friend,” stated Brooke Fisher-Clark, Executive Director of United Way.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is considered world-class for Kindergarten readiness and enhancing family engagement time reading. It fits perfectly with one of United Way’s goals of improving kindergarten readiness. Currently only 30% of Cowlitz County children are considered kindergarten ready.
Enormous thanks go to the four Rotary Clubs in the county who are the founding sponsors and ongoing supporters: Kelso, Woodland, Longview Noon Edition, and Longview Early Edition. “Without their early buy-in, contributions, and great commitment to children’s literacy, we would not have been able to make such a powerful impact right from the start,” said Fisher-Clark.
Kelso Rotary Foundation also offered up to a $10,000 match if local community members could contribute that same amount in memory of the late Cindy Donaldson, Kelso Librarian who was so very passionate about children’s literacy. Our community met that match. Others honored this year through special program contributions were the late Jodie Sides and the late Glenn Gelbrich, former Superintendent of Kelso School District. Others donated directly or through special events like United Way’s Impact Cup: Real Estate Circuit Challenge, the Spell-ebration event put on by Kelso Rotary and many more. “The list is long, but we are pleased and thankful that the community remains supportive of this program, so we can make it long-term and sustainable for our early learners yet to come. You know you are onto something good when you receive such positive feedback from participating families,” stated Fisher-Clark. One local Mom’s sentiments match so many others… “Love, love, love this program…it’s such a gift to so many families. It’s like Christmas every month when a new book arrives!”
For those interested in contributing to the program or signing children up to receive books, go to www.cowlitzunitedway.org.