Saturday, October 8, 2011

Robertson County Reads: A Call to Help

This is “A Call to Help” for the “Robertson County Reads Program.”
What I quote (in part) here is a letter drafted by Education Committee Chairman Steve Haley to a local civic group:
Robertson County Reads is our county’s affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a program which sends high-quality; age-appropriate books each month to children from birth to age five.  Books are mailed to the child at his/her home at no cost to the family.
The program was adopted for Robertson County by the County Commission as part of the Governors Books from Birth Initiative.  The Robertson County Chamber was asked to serve as the “champion” for the program, taking responsibility for fundraising and administration.
Since its inception in 2006, over 3,500 Robertson County children have been served by Robertson County Reads, with over 95,000 books being distributed.  There are currently 1,570 children enrolled, an estimated 43% of those eligible, and 1,763 children have reached age five and “graduated” from the program.
The chamber has raised close to $100,000 over the past five years to cover the cost of the program.  The cost of books and postage is approximately $28 per child, per year.  Of this the Governors Books from Birth Foundation pays half and local fundraising covers the rest.  To date we have spent $95,500 on books and postage. 
The ongoing cost of the program given our current level of enrollment is approximately $1,500 per month or $18,000 per year.  We have been receiving $2,000 annually from the United Way and another $2,000 from the local Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs.  We also have initiated a program to allow folks to sponsor a child for a year at a cost of $15.   We currently have a database of sponsors which covers the costs for about 700 children.  
This program needs to move from the chamber to another entity that can manage and fund raiser for this program.   There is currently a short fall in this program and it is close to have to be shut down.  The measurements of this program are VERY long range and we won’t know who or how we have helped the participating children until years down the road. 
I quote this in part because Chairman Haley submitted this to a local group for them to consider participating in some form or fashion – “who” here is being asked is not as important as just what is being asked. Read this as an open plea to Robertson County.
As a member of the chamber and as an Education Committee member, finding a group to carry this banner forward is high priority. I think we can all agree of the value that this program - personally, I know that two of my little girls, Aubrey and Zella, look forward to and love each month's new books. This is why I am a proud financial supporter of this program.
What this program needs is a group to carry the fundraising banner forward.
If you would like to help in any form or fashion, please feel free to contact me.


  1. Please email me. I need to send Rob Co READS an invitation to the Robertson County Players Annual Meeting so someone may make a 5 minute presentation to our Board for our Playing It Forward initiative. thanks

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