United Way Telethon 2022 - Financially Supporting Dolly’s Imagination Library

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 12:21 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - It takes thousands of dollars to ensure that every county child receives one book a month from birth through age 5.

“We started out with a small number of kids, maybe the first month our bill was like 49 dollars and then it was up to 100 and then it just kept growing and growing.” says Claudia Stevens, former executive director of the United Way of Aroostook.

And Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been growing ever since it first started in the County in 2010. It now costs the United Way of Aroostook about 60,000 dollars to run. To pay for this, the United Way uses the Book Nook located at the Aroostook Center Mall.

Sarah Duncan the current executive director of the United Way of Aroostook says, “All the books in the Nook are donated by individuals and it’s by donation, no body works in the little store, it’s set up just like a book store and you can take a book for any donation amount that you would like and all that money, every single penny of that money from that book nook goes right to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.”

Grant money has also been available, in the past.

But Duncan says, “We have not been able to receive any grant funding for the next several years for this program. So, this telethon is really urgent and really needed to help keep the program going.”

Governor Janet Mills recently announced some funding for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library statewide, but it is still unsure how much of that money will actually reach Aroostook County.

But again, Duncan says, “The legislature has only designated 200,000 dollars to cover the entire state, so we are unsure, I’ve talked with the Governor’s Office, I’ve talked with the state librarian who will be in charge of the program and we don’t know how much support that we might receive, or if we will receive any support, just because we have such a successful program up here already going.”

But regardless of the cost, those involved with it say, it is a beneficial program worth continuing for the County’s future generations.

Athena Hallowell, former program and volunteer coordinator, says, “When you spend that time when they’re young, and you invest the time, the energy, that the return with be seen eventually, later success in school. So, I feel that this program gives parents a little bit of an advantage, it puts those books in the hands of the families where maybe there wasn’t that opportunity before.”

Opportunity that can open doors later in life.