How Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Came to the Verde Valley
The Start of Verde Valley Imagination Library
The Rotary Club of Sedona brought the Imagination Library to Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek first, with kick-off events at both libraries. Several members of our current VVIL board are founding members. David Simmer, the 2019-2020 Rotary District Governor for the northern half of Arizona, spearheaded that initiative. The Great Sedona Chili Cook-Off and many individual donors helped fund the program. Rotarians and volunteers wearing Cat-in-the Hat hats helped parents enroll at family friendly community events. The hat became our signature. The Sedona club worked with leaders in the Beaver Creek community to add Rimrock to the coverage area.
In July 2016, with the help of a one-year challenge grant from the Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona and the support of all the Rotary Clubs in the Verde Valley (Sedona, Sedona Red Rocks, Verde Valley clubs,) the coverage area expanded to all Verde Valley communities. To help with the expansion, Elote Restaurant (Jeff Smedstad and his employees, many whose kids received Imagination Library books) hosted a Tequila Tasting fundraiser and Eddie’s Promise Golf Tournament (in memory of Eddie Passov, a beloved long-time member of the Sedona Rotary Club) provided 6 months of reserve funds.
To simplify the financial accounting, the newly named Verde Valley Imagination Library (VVIL) became its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit with representatives of each Rotary Club on the board. There are no paid staff and no facility overhead.
In November 2017 the VVIL established a partnership with the Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Verde Valley Medical center to give the first book to every newborn and to help parents register in the free book program. Since then almost 500 newborns have been enrolled with the help of the OB nurses.
Where We Are Today
Currently there are over 2000 participating. Many children have moved from Sedona and to surrounding areas in the Verde Valley. We enter changed addresses in the Book Order System.
Town and number of children registered*
Cottonwood - 888
Camp Verde - 468
Sedona & VOC - 193
Beaver Creek SD - 198
Clarkdale - 141
Cornville - 107
Jerome - 7
* Enrollment as of the end of Jan. 2021