Skip to main content
Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 29, 2018 2 years ago

Ormond Beach leadership class brings Dolly Parton Imagination Library to town

The Imagination Library will help more children be exposed to books earlier in life.
by: Guest Writer

Dear Editor:

For those of you who aren’t already aware of it, the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of President and CEO Debbie Cotton, puts on an 8-week leadership course every year.  This year’s leadership class, Class XV, was comprised of 27 members of the Ormond Beach community that came together for two primary objectives. 

The first primary objective was to learn about all aspects of Ormond Beach Leadership ranging from city government and economic development to community health and wellness, not-for-profits, the arts and the city’s rich history.  To this end, our class was given a priceless opportunity to hear from a variety of civic and business leaders who were kind enough to share their time, experience and advice on the topic of leadership. 

Ormond Beach City Manager Joyce Shanahan and members of her team, including the city's fire chief, police chief, planning director, director of public works and director of economic development, exposed our class to the litany of things that our city’s leadership must accomplish with consistency to operate effectively, efficiently and within budget. 

Steve Farmer, executive vice president of Brown & Brown, delivered a captivating leadership discussion and gave our class heartfelt advice that we will all use and remember for a lifetime.  John Adams, president of Adams, Cameron & Co. Realtors, Bill Navarra Realty Pros Assured owner and broker, and Kevin Wakefield, owner of Grind Gastropub, Kona Tiki Bar and 31 Supper Club, shared a variety of priceless personal leadership stories associated with the growth of their respective businesses. Each story opened our eyes more widely to the importance of leadership when growing a successful business. We also received great wisdom from City and County Commissioners, not-for-profit leaders, and lastly, Coach Steve Ridder who has lead the Embry-Riddle Eagles men’s basketball program for the last 28 seasons. What an absolute treat!

The second primary objective of our class was to identify and lead a community service project that would not only benefit the citizens of Ormond Beach, but also have a lasting impact. To this end, our class of 27 motivated leaders coalesced around the idea of raising the funds necessary to bring the internationally-acclaimed Dolly Parton Imagination Library, an early learning child literacy program, to Ormond Beach. 

In short, the Imagination Library provides one free age-appropriate book per month to enrolled children from birth through the age of 5. As a result, a child in Ormond Beach who is signed up from birth can collect a library of 60 books before starting kindergarten.  Simply put, the program is important to our community because studies show that our children are more successful when they take an early interest in reading. 

To start the Ormond Beach Chapter of the Imagination Library, our team had to raise a minimum of $10,000 over a six-week period.  Through fundraisers, social mixers and donations from local residents, businesses and foundations, we were successful in raising over $16,000, which exceeded

our minimum goal by 60%!  Thanks to the efforts of Class XV and the generous donations from our community, we are proud and pleased to tell you on behalf of our entire class that the Ormond Beach Chapter of the Imagination Library went live successfully on May 10, 2018.  

As a team, we accomplished something that will not only "benefit the community"  but more importantly,  have a “lasting impact” on the lives of Ormond Beach children.  The experience was enriching to our souls and will most certainly bond our class for life.  

If you know a child in Ormond Beach that would like to sign-up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, please visit If you would like to get involved in the program or make a donation please contact the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia at 386-323-2400. For information on next year’s Ormond Beach Leadership Class, please contact the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce at 677-3454.

Mark Goodson and Damion Pitts

Co-Community Service Project Leaders

Ormond Beach Leadership Class XV

Related Stories