This week our spotlight is on two longtime Sioux Empire United Way volunteers. This week, Sioux Empire United Way will be delivering the one millionth Imagination Library book to a local child. The two volunteers today played an important role in launching this program locally.
Rich Garry was the 2002 Volunteer Campaign Chair in the fall of 2001. The successful 2002 Campaign created funding for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library locally.
Bill Baker was the 2003 Volunteer Campaign Chair a year later. The Campaign Kickoff that year also served as a launching point for Imagination Library to expand across the state to other United Ways and included a concert by Dolly Parton.
Name: Rich Garry
Company: Garry & Associates
Current Volunteer Role: Bullpen Team Chair
# Years UW Volunteer: 20+
Fill in the blank:
"When I learned...
"that we could send a book each month to children under the age of five,"
I thought this was “pretty awesome.”
"Another thing I thought was “Pretty Awesome” was when I was the 2002 Campaign Chair. September 11th happened just a few days after our Campaign Kickoff, and at first giving came to a dead halt. Then, our community was generous in their giving to the victims of 9/11. In addition, they continued their giving support to Sioux Empire United Way. It was amazing to see the Sioux Empire’s generosity during that time."
Any other fun facts about you, your family, your career or hobbies that you'd like to share?
What motivates me the most in life right now is community service. I was trained in public service, but now community service is my passion. Whether it’s the United Way, Washington Pavilion, South Dakota Achieve, Dow Rummel, or others – there is a whole range of organizations that can have an impact.
Name: Bill Baker
Company: The First National Bank in Sioux Falls
Current Volunteer Role: Bullpen Team Member
# Years Volunteer: 15+
I’m honored to be in the “spotlight.”
With my Campaign coming a year later, launched in September 2002 (for 2003), I was fortunate to ride on Rich’s coattails! The fun thing I got to do was to invite Dolly Parton to come to Sioux Falls to perform at the statewide Imagination Library launch. By that time, thanks to Rich and his team’s efforts (and thanks to Jay, Laura Bowman, Deb Koski and other SEUW staff at the time) we already had a solid track record with Dolly’s staff, and they were willing to consider coming to Sioux Falls.
I’ve often joked that I “got to carry Dolly Parton’s guitar case” around for a day, and that’s basically what it was, but it was definitely one of the more memorable days of my life! She was absolutely wonderful! Such a trooper, and with such a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor! Several weeks after she left, she sent back the money we had raised to pay her band members and road crew (her performance fee was waived from the beginning). She said, “I’ll take care of the band and crew, put this money into your fund to buy the books for the kids!” I’ll never forget that. It spoke volumes about the kind of human being she truly is.