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Grady-White First Business to Adopt Imagination Library for Employees

Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Grady-White Boats last month became Pitt County’s first industry to adopt an employer-based partnership with the Books From Birth Early Literacy Coalition, but the United Way of Pitt County is looking for more.

Through the partnership, the marine fishing boat manufacturer is sponsoring the cost of enrollment for its employees to participate in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program for children ages birth to 5 years old. Even employees who live outside Pitt County can receive Imagination Library books through the partnership.

The program delivers an age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age 5 for $30 a year. 

“The employees fill out a form here at work, including their addresses, then we take it from there,” said Geri Lassiter, a Grady-White supervisor. “We make sure it gets to The United Way and then to the Imagination Library. The books then are delivered from the library directly to our employees’ homes every month until they reach five.”

The folks at Grady-White already have a strong culture of learning and self-improvement and an appreciation of the value of books. They have an established voluntary program that pays their employees to select and read books from a list of available titles geared toward career and personal development.

“Most of the people who work here appreciate and take advantage of the valuable information that books offer,” Lassiter said.

Leadership at Grady-White recognized that many school children do not get the same opportunity in their homes to prepare to be successful, so they decided to contribute to that effort as well, Lassiter said.

In addition to Grady-White’s commitment to bring Imagination Library books to its employees, The (Eddie and Jo Allison) Smith Family Foundation contributed a total of $36,000 between January 2016 and January 2017 for early foundational support for the Books From Birth Early Literacy Coalition, United Way records indicate.

“We’ve seen the need and we know that not all Pitt County children are ready to learn when they reach Kindergarten,” Lassiter said. “We believe it will take a collaborative effort to get all these kids ready to learn. This is one step toward that goal.”

The United Way reports that Greenville Utilities, Hyster Yale and Mayne Pharma have expressed interest in the program, and officials are hoping to involve more employers. Anyone interested can call the agency at 758-1604.