VETERAN’S PARK – Holly Frank and the rest of the team behind the Six Nations Imagination Library celebrated the groups first birthday last week in Ohsweken.
“I think we did fabulous,” said Holly Frank, a full-time personal support worker living in Six Nations who also finds time to manage the group. “To have 172 kids join in the past year is awesome.”
The imagination library is a free subscription program founded by country music star Dolly Parton that parents register their children into soon after they are born. The child receives one book per month until they reach their fifth birthday — in the last year the group has seen 16 children graduate from the program.
Six Nations’ Imagination Library began last June when the group received its first monetary sponsor. The group sent out its first book to a child in the community last August and celebrated its birthday in Veteran’s Park last week with story-telling, face-painting, free strawberry juice and cupcakes.
“We don’t have an official birth date, but we picked this day because it fits in with when we received our first donation and when we sent out our first book,” said Frank. “Since August 2015 to now, we’ve mailed 971 books out into our community.”
The group is still in a grassroots stage, small, but working very hard to add to their numbers. All donations and sponsors are very much appreciated.
“We recently received a 10 thousand dollar grant from the Six Nations Community Trust Fund,” said Frank. “That doesn’t mean we were given 10 thousand dollars cash though — we bring our invoices to the community trust and they will pay or invoice up to that amount.”
Frank said that right now the group is thinking about applying for more grants and reaching out to larger organizations that could help.
“There is no cost for the family. The library pays $45 a year per child, which covers the cost of the book and shipping fees and it’s my job to find that funding.”
Cole Squire, Frank’s son, has been a huge help to the team and Frank said that he is really committed to the growth of the library.
“It’s become so much more than just getting kids registered in the program,” said Squire. “The long-term effects of this program help with reducing poverty, social and healthcare costs, remediation in school and it prepares kids to enter school so they can excel in high school and post-secondary.
“Sometimes it seems like we are moving slowly, but we’re getting somewhere and that’s what really matters,” he said.
One thing Frank said that has been a little disappointing this year has been the few occasions where books that were sent out were not picked-up or received by the families.
“A few times I received notifications that some books weren’t getting picked up. So I had to pick them up and try to deliver them myself, but when I tried to get a hold of the family their email addresses we incorrect or their phone numbers were out of service,” said Frank.
“It costs us money every time we register a child and when it doesn’t work out, that’s money gone out the window and we just don’t have money to waste right now.”
Frank would like to ask the community that when families register the children into the library that they make sure that their contact information is correct and up-to-date.
“Everyone has done a great job this year,” said Frank. “We know we still have a lot of work to do, but seeing all the good this program brings the community keeps us going.”