The Dictionary Project
GFWC LILBURN WOMAN’S CLUB
FOCUS ON LITERACY PROJECT
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. ~~Margaret Mead~~
The GFWC Lilburn Woman’s Club (LWC) challenged themselves and the community to meet the goal of providing every third grader attending a Lilburn public elementary school with an age appropriate dictionary. Why third grade? Professional educators have determined that third grade is when children begin transitioning from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn.’
After confirming that there were 1300 third graders enrolled in eight Lilburn public schools this year, they established that they needed $4,614 to complete the project. The committee began reaching out to other organizations in search of partners to help cover the cost of the books and were met with resounding support. Members of the LWC presented the concept to several other community-based organizations including Lilburn Business Association and Sweetwater Masonic Lodge #421, who each agreed whole-heartedly to become a sponsor. Grants were received from Believe in Reading and Walton EMC in support of this project. Individual LWC club members also made personal donations to support the project.
When the CEO of The Dictionary Project, Mary French, learned of the LWC community challenge, she agreed to show their support by donating dozens of cases of books to help achieve our goal. The dictionaries are child-friendly, with more than 35,000 entries, parts of speech, punctuation and pronunciation with dictionary guides. They also include a 150-page reference section containing information about the solar system, international flags, U.S. presidents, The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, sign language instructions, Braille and much more.
Evergreen Senior Club
The joy on the faces of so many children receiving their own personal dictionary has been the total delight of everyone involved.
The idea for The Dictionary Project began in 1992 when Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia, gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home. Each year she continued to give this gift, raising money to help give more and more books so that in her lifetime she raised enough money to buy 17,000 dictionaries for children in Savannah. Early on, her project attracted the attention of Bonnie Beeferman of Hilton Head, S.C., who began a project of raising money by selling crafts to buy dictionaries for the schoolchildren of Hilton Head and the surrounding communities. By 1995, Bonnie was getting so many requests from local teachers to be included in the project that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Charleston Post and Courier explaining the project and asking for someone to help meet requests from the Charleston area.
Mary French, who was already an active school volunteer even though her two children were still of preschool age, read the letter and decided this was a project for her. Starting with a few schools in Charleston and Summerville, she realized quickly that providing dictionaries to all the students in Charleston was going to require serious fundraising. She and her late husband Arno French formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Association in 1995, along with a Board of Directors. Arno served as president, Mary became the director of the Association, and The Dictionary Project was born.Since its implementation in 1995, over 18 million children have received dictionaries because thousands of people saw the same need in communities all over the United States.
The GFWC Lilburn Woman's Club has voted this in as our Community Improvement Project for 2021-2022 and hopes to continue the tradition for many years to come.