The Women United affinity group of the local United Way is targeting early-childhood literacy.

It’s a sad fact that children from low-income families don’t start school with the same size vocabulary as children from high-income families. They have fewer books, and they’re read to less often. By the time they start school, research shows, they’ve heard 30 million fewer words than children from high-income families.

To help, the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties (UWMPC) Women United affinity group has joined forces with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The program provides free, age-appropriate books for children every month from birth to age 5. Forty West Virginia counties participate in this program.

In Preston County, about 70 percent of children are part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Women United has partnered with Preston County to help increase the number of children registered, and it will start a Monongalia County program in January 2018. “We hope to provide the opportunity for children to be read to and to address early childhood preparation,” says Lydotta Taylor, co-chair of the UWMPC’s Women United affinity group. “We think it’s extremely important to provide this to children in our communities.”

An affinity group steering committee of 25 women from Monongalia and Preston counties is recruiting members and raising money for the project. “We try to get women in our communities interested in doing something above and beyond to support education efforts through the United Way,” Taylor says. So far, they have recruited 170 members and raised more than $11,000. “We just hope to continue to advance educational opportunities that we can offer.”

To donate, call the UWMPC or, online, select “Get Involved” and “Women United.” Every dollar raised goes to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program in Monongalia and Preston counties. 304.296.7525,


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