The Dolly Parton You Don’t Know

Frank Wiley

Your Sun Lakes Rotary Club wants to introduce you to the Dolly Parton you probably don’t know. Yes, the same Grammy-award-winning country singer/movie star who has her own theme park in Tennessee. She has a passion that she is very involved in and that has spread to your Sun Lakes Rotary Club. Our passion is reading to preschool children from birth to five years old. In fact, our passion is so strong that through her foundation, “The Imagination Library,” and our “Rotary Foundation 2000,” we deliver a book every month to the home of a child under five at no cost to the parents. Many studies have shown that the preschool age group learn faster than any other age group. A parent or grandparent who holds their child or sits and reads to their child sends a tremendous message to that child, and that child develops a comfort and love for books.

So how does your Sun Lakes Rotary Club fit in to this great program? Dolly’s Imagination Library has vetted legitimate organizations like us that have a foundation to find a community and their post office to ensure the books get to the children. We then pay for the books, like The Little Engine That Could, pay the postage, and vet and monitor the program to make sure it’s running property.

Your Sun Lakes Rotary Club Imagination Library Committee, under the leadership of Terri Sanders with great help from her husband Dave Sanders (no relation to the colonel), leads the program. Terri says, “Our main goal was to find a ‘test area’ that would be workable by size for our entry into the program.”

Terri and Dave, along with the Rotary Imagination Library Committee, decided on the Town of Guadalupe, based on its size and obvious need. We met with the servicing post office and started reaching out to the community leaders. Initially, we encountered skepticism. A free program with no strings attached? But as we delivered, that vanished into great appreciation. There may be no free lunches, but it turns out the children are receiving free books.

I grew up in Phoenix and never knew that Guadalupe is a Native American community and part of the Yaqui Tribe and was established under the Woodrow Wilson presidency.

There has been a lot of work to get the program up and running, but none of us work “9 to 5” (one of Dolly’s No. 1 hits) or even seven days a week, but the committee, made up of Rotarians Katie Cloudman, Rotary Foundation 2000 President Rowin Floth, Peter Meade, Lisa Phillips, Club President Bill Crump, and myself, have attended almost all Guadalupe events to find candidates. There is no “Jolene” (another No. 1 hit) on the committee, because Dolly doesn’t like her. (No, the jokes don’t get any better!)

Your Rotary Imagination Library Committee is now looking to expand to other communities, and we are looking for partners. We are asking for your help if you believe in and have a passion for early childhood development as we do. You can do something positive while knowing your donation will be vetted and used properly while also having a tax deduction. Your donation will be used almost exclusively for books and postage to deliver the books to the children’s homes. We will be happy with any donation, but just think, for only $150 you would be sponsoring a child to receive a book a month from birth to five years old.

There are three ways to help the children.

First, you can simply write a check to Rotary Foundation 2000 and write “Imagination Library” in the memo section and then send it to Sun Lakes Rotary Foundation 2000, 23906 S. Stoney Lake Drive, Sun Lakes, AZ 85248.

Second, join us for “Dinner and a Movie” at the Alamo Draft House at the northeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Heights on Wednesday, March 18. Call Frank Wiley at 602-540-5400 for a ticket which we are selling for $25. Sorry, but no walk-ups. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

The movie we will be watching is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, starring, of course, Dolly Parton and co-starring Bert Reynolds. As a disclaimer, by no means are we, as Rotarians, endorsing whorehouses.

Third, donate online at https://imaginationlibrary.com/usa/affiliate/AZGUADALUPE. This website will give you a lot of information!

Thank you in advance for your consideration and generosity. We hope you have the passion to help us help others.