September 08, 2021

Alcoans get into the act of reading with America’s queen of country music

Portland Aluminium Plant Manager Ron Jorgensen interacts after reading one of his favorite children’s books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library

Dolly Parton is an international superstar, and the work that her “Imagination Library” is doing to promote literacy is getting a boost all the way from Louisiana in the southern United States to the state of Victoria in Australia.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, the Alcoa Foundation has been supporting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library since 2015, through the United Way of Southwest Louisiana. The project grows the literacy skills of children and encourages a love of reading.

Many preschool-age children from low-income families in Southwest Louisiana do not have access to books simply because their families cannot afford them. This year’s grant is expected to provide books and skills building to at least 500 children aged 0-5 from low-moderate income families in the community.

In Australia, the Imagination Library has been delivered to more than 900 children at no cost to families since it was launched in Glenelg Shire eight years ago.

It is funded by United Way Glenelg supporters and Portland Aluminium directly. Portland has been a major partner since 2013. Since the start of the partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, 34,993 books have been delivered to children between the ages of 0-5 across the region.

"To have the opportunity and ability to help educate our youngest generation; to give them the best possible start to life is a privilege. I personally am very proud to be involved in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library,” explained Portland Aluminum plant manager Ron Jorgensen.

That benefit isn’t lost on parents who have had to keep children home amid the global pandemic.

Program recipient Melissah Dunn (pictured right) shared with her local United Way in Glenelg Shire in a Facebook feature that she moved her 4-year-old, Sarah, out of daycare during 2020 due to the pandemic. According to her, the once-a-month book gift was a welcomed experience for her and her daughter.

“The delivery of books was a god-send at the time, and the majority of the books on Sarah’s bookshelf are from the Imagination Library,” she added.

Click here to see Alcoans share some of their favorite books in a past 30-days of literacy campaign.