Ocean City Today

Imagination Library receives $80K

Jan 18, 2018
Donnie Williams Foundation President Mark Granger and Board Members Kimberly Roemer, Kirk Kinnamon and Greg Johnson, recently met with Kathleen Mommé and Pam Gregory of United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore to present an $80,000 check to the Imagination Library. Williams served as a United Way board member, donor and dedicated volunteer for many years.

(Jan. 19, 2018) In 2012, the Eastern Shore lost a well-respected pillar of the community. Local entrepreneur Donnie Williams died unexpectedly, leaving behind a legacy and a group of close friends determined to see it fulfilled.

Throughout his successful career in real estate development and property rentals, Williams maintained a focus on developing the minds of students and young professionals through mentorships and community service. His hard work and success earned him millions.

Before he passed away, Williams sat down with advisors to create a plan for how his hard earned dollars would make an impact in the community. The Donnie Williams Foundation was born and a path to his lasting impact was taking shape.

Williams insisted that the funds from his estate be to support and develop children, specifically youth in Wicomico and Worcester counties where he lived as an adult, and in St. Mary’s County where he was raised.

Donnie Williams Foundation President Mark Granger, a Salisbury certified public accountant, and his wife, Kimberly Roemer, were long-time friends of Williams. They, alongside other board members Kirk Kinnamon and Greg Johnson, recently met with United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore to present an $80,000 check to the Imagination Library, a program that Williams would have celebrated had he been alive to see it flourish. Williams served as a United Way board member, donor and dedicated volunteer for many years.

The Imagination Library, launched locally by United Way in 2012, has provided over 117,000 books to over 5,000 local children since its inception. Serving Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester counties, the book program is provided at no cost to children under the age of 5, and is funded primarily through grants.

The positive impact of the Imagination Library is seen in over 1,200 communities throughout the United States and the program serves as a key resource for families and a tool that empowers children for success.

Upon registering for the program, a child receives a high quality, age-appropriate book delivered directly to his or her home each month until age 5. Children enrolled as newborns can receive as many as 60 books throughout the course of enrollment to build their home libraries.

According to the most recent Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) in Wicomico, Dorchester and Somerset counties, children enrolled in Imagination Library test higher in all categories of kindergarten readiness than children who are not enrolled.

Tested categories include Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Physical Development and Social Foundations. Worcester County’s Reading Readiness test scores showed Imagination Library enrollees testing at 61 percent ready versus non enrollees at 45 percent.

“Donnie was such an important part of our United Way when he was alive, and we are blessed to have his generosity and spirit live on through our Imagination Library,” said Kathleen Mommé, United Way’s executive director. “This program is right up Donnie’s alley. He always stressed the importance of program results and measurable data. With the support of the Donnie Williams Foundation, our United Way is committed to providing the program to all children in our community… and the measurable results speak for themselves.”

Now in its 73rd year, United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore continues to be the largest non-governmental source of funding for 80 critical programs in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester counties.

United Way helps Eastern Shore residents obtain educational success by reducing the achievement gap between low and middle income students, financial stability by advancing the economic security of families and individuals in the community, and good health by improving access to and awareness of local health and wellness services.

In 2017, United Way provided over $1.4 million to community programs and helped to change the lives of over 82,000 individuals. For more information, visit www.unitedway4us.org.

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