United Way Telethon 2022 - Dolly’s Imagination Library

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 12:16 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - The United Way of Aroostook has been running the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program since 2010 in the County.

Claudia Stevens, Former Executive Director of United Way of Aroostook says, “I felt like, if we’re going to really create a sustainable change, then we need to start with our children and start very young. If our children aren’t proficient readers by the time they’re in the 3rd grade, they’re going to fall behind.”

It was then Stevens found Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

What better opportunity then to put books in the hands of kids on a regular basis that parents can sit and read with them. There were so many valuable things that could come from that.

Athena Hallowell, former program and volunteer coordinator for the United Way of Aroostook says, “Early literary is of course something near and dear to my heart as a former educator. We know that from birth to age three, children’s brains develop at an alarmingly awesome rate and that’s the best time to reach them for early literacy and language development and Dolly Parton’s Imagination program helps parents do just that.”

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends 1 book per month to any child that is signed up for the program from birth through age 5.

Sarah Duncan, the current executive director of the United Way of Aroostook adds, “Any child can be registered online or with any local hospital. The local hospitals all partner with us to help us register children as they’re born at the hospital. Or if you’re new to the area you can go on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library website and register your child there.”

“Each month, right now, the United Way is sending out just over 2000 books to preschoolers here in Aroostook County free of charge, it’s free to enroll your children. over the programs history, they’ve graduated over 3000 children, so 3000 children have gone through from birth to 5. It continues to serve just over 2000 children now.” says Hallowell.

“We actually have one of the highest percentage participation rates in the whole United States, for the program. Just because of our wonderful partnerships and for the people that believe in the program.” adds Duncan.

Duncan says it costs 25 dollars per month per child for 1 years worth of books. It takes 125 dollars to give one child one book a month for the full 5 years.