The Rotary Club of Leesburg recently donated $10,000 each to two local nonprofits selected as the beneficiaries of the club’s annual Sticky Wicket Croquet Tournament.
The grants were presented by outgoing Club President Bruce Roberts to representatives of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and its Loudoun County Chapter “Roots Grow Wings” and The Ryan Bartel Foundation, a youth suicide prevention organization.
Imagination Library is a book gifting program that provides free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Parton started the program in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans five countries and gifts over 1 million books each month to children around the world.
The project was brought to life by a group of Loudoun teachers and moms in partnership with the Rotary Club of Leesburg in 2020 and identified as one of the organizations the club’s foundation would support through fund-raising efforts. The club helped “Roots Grow Wings” apply for and receive charitable tax-exempt status. Currently, the organization is distributing books in Middleburg and Purcellville to more than 200 children every month and looking to expand into other Loudoun communities.
The Ryan Bartel Foundation began in 2014 by Bernie and Suzie Bartel following the death of their 17-year-old son, Ryan. Its mission is to prevent youth suicide through awareness, upstream educational programs, and activities that support and empower youth families and the community at-large through acceptance, connection, resiliency and hope.
The foundation’s objectives are to break the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide through communication and positive outreach in their communities; to create a culture where everyone matters; to facilitate connections among youth with trusted adults; to empower youth to seek help for themselves and help others; to provide evidence-based programs to build resiliency for coping with life’s challenges and to support youth-inspired activities to foster self-purpose, belonging and hope.
The Rotary Club of Leesburg has more than 60 members and this year is celebrating the 95th anniversary of receiving its Charter from Rotary International.