GIVING BACK Spotlight

In Lola Shreveport by Lola Magazine

United Way of Northwest Louisiana opened registration to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) in Benton, Louisiana, with the aid of Benton resident, Jenna Bagley. Bagley volunteered to assist with raising over $26,000 to ensure the program would be available in Benton for the next five years.

This early childhood literacy program fosters a love of reading for children from birth to age five and helps prepare them for kindergarten success. Through DPIL, one book is delivered directly to children’s homes each month. If a child is enrolled in the program at birth, they will own a library of 60 books by the time they enter Kindergarten, all at zero cost to the child’s family.

“My son was born with severe hearing loss. One of his speech therapists suggested that I enroll him in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to get him really excited about me reading to him and help develop his vocabulary,” said Bagley. “I looked up the program and found that it wasn’t yet offered where I live, so I partnered with United Way of Northwest Louisiana, and we raised the funds to make it happen!”

Last year, United Way provided over 46,000 books to nearly 4,300 children. “Our goal is to raise enough funds to provide books to every child in Northwest Louisiana. With continued corporate support from companies, such as AEP- SWEPCO/AEP Foundation and individuals like Ms. Bagley, I believe we can get there,” said LaToria Thomas, VP of Community Investments and Operations. At the cost of $30 per year for each child, United Way needs to raise approximately $1.1 million to provide this program to every child in the area.   

“I wanted to make sure that every kid in my community has the opportunity to develop a love of reading. Thank you so much to all who donated to make this possible – you have truly given an incredible gift to our kids!” said Bagley.

DPIL is currently offered in zip codes 71006, 71064, 71103, 71106, 71109, 7111, 71112 or any zip code in DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, and Webster Parishes. United Way is only able to continue this program with help of generous supporters.

To learn more about the program, register, or make a contribution, visit www.unitedwaynwla.org/dpil.