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Rotaract group volunteers at downtown Dothan library


Dothan, Ala. – Wallace Community College’s Rotaract group sat at tables in the center of Dothan's downtown library. It was 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and they were ready to read with area children as part of a service project. The only problem? No one was there.

It was the first time the club, which is a youth component of Rotary International, had held the event, a free Saturday morning tutoring or reading session for K-12 students who wanted some help. They sent notices to area schools, left flyers in the local library and there was even a brief in the newspaper. Better luck next time, they decided.

The group gathered for a photo to remember the morning before leaving the library.

And then Dothan resident Kimberly Clark approached with her two sons. She frequents the library often, but this trip had a specific purpose: She was there for the Rotaract event. Clark struggles with reading and writing herself, and wanted her sons, Isaiah, 11, who has learning disabilities, and 6-year-old Israel, to read with Wallace students.

Chris Anderson, Rotaract’s president, set off to find a good book with Isaiah, and Cory Barnes hunted the shelves with Israel.

"You like basketball?" Corey asked. Israel nodded eagerly and picked a book from his stack, which were all about the sport.

Corey opened the book. "LeBron James? He was 'The Man' back in the day! I can tell you some stories about him."

The other Rotaract members had followed Chris and Cory into the children's room. They started to chat with children who were in the room. Morgan Moss and Sydney Hall flipped through books and chatted with two pre-teens, one from Montana Elementary School and the other from Carver Magnet School. Earlene Welton read to a toddler who eagerly watched as she flipped the pages. A group of boys played video games on the computers. They didn't seem interested in giving up the game for a book, so Jada Starling, who is Rotaract’s vice-president, along with Zach Loyed and Lauren Sanders, joined the boys at the computers to learn about the game.

Rotaract advisor and history instructor Zachary Kelley leaned on a bookshelf and watched. The day had started out slowly, but now the club members were bustling around the library, each involved in their own activity. "It just takes one person to make a difference," he said.

Isaiah ran back to the shelves to find a new book. Chris followed. "Wow," Chris said. "He really touched my heart."

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