In 2014, Cathie Richardson, an ex-teacher, was soon to be President of the Rotary Club of Macarthur Sunrise and was looking for a project the club could undertake. She heard about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and knew that this was a project the club could get behind. And that they did, now supporting the program for more than eight years. Thanks to a recent ClubGRANT, the program can continue to grow.
Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 so that every child could develop a love of reading, no matter their family’s income. The program launched in Australia in 2013 and the Rotary Club of Macarthur Sunrise was an early supporter.
“When we first heard about the program, we thought it sounded great,” recalls Cathie, now Secretary of the Rotary Club. “We did some research and decided that’s what we wanted to do.”
Children aged newborn to 5 years are eligible and receive one book each month for the time they’re enrolled in the program. When they turn five they graduate from the program. A child enrolled from birth could have 60 books in their library by the time they graduate.
5377 books and counting
The Rotary Club initially enrolled 30 children in the program. As at July 2023, they have 86 children enrolled, some through to 2027.
“So far we’ve mailed out 5377 books and seen 120 children graduate from the program,” says Cathie proudly of their success to date.
Cathie says that they regularly receive feedback and messages from the children’s parents saying how much they value the program.
Growth and sustainability
Supporting the program to the degree Cathie’s Rotary Club does doesn’t come without a significant financial investment. The cost to mail out those 5377 books is $41,710. They were thankful to receive a recent ClubGRANT of $10,000 to help support the program.
“It will cost us almost $10,000 over the next 12 months to support the 86 children currently enrolled,” adds Cathie. “We do our own fundraising and work collaboratively with other Rotary Clubs but this ClubGRANT will ensure that we can continue to grow. More than that, we can grow sustainably to ensure the longevity of the program.”
“To see our ClubGRANTS funds supporting vulnerable children in our community is incredible,” says Terry Goldsworthy, President of Ingleburn RSL Club. “No doubt the benefit of these children developing a love of reading will have far reaching impacts on our community.”
Learn more about the Rotary Club of Macarthur Sunrise and their support of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.