May I have the definition? Grown-up Spelling Bee benefits Dolly Parton Literacy Program book giveaway

February 2019 Posted in Business, Community

Silverton Kiwanis Bee Committee Co-Chairs, Lisa Santana and Christy Davis. Nancy Jennings

By Nancy Jennings

What does Dolly Parton and a spelling bee have in common? For the answer, look no further than Silverton’s Kiwanis Club – which will host the inaugural Great Grown-up Spelling Bee & Wine and Dessert Auction on Friday, March 8 at Silverton’s First Christian Church. The silent wine/dessert auction (and “heavy hors d’oeuvres”) will begin at 6 p.m., with the spelling bee portion starting at 7 p.m. Catering will be provided by the Wooden Nickel. A no-host bar will be available. Sponsors, so far, include Citizen’s Bank, Ticor Title, and Bledsoe Santana Team Realty.

Community members involved in the bee so far include: Dan Schacher (MC and Auctioneer), Gus Frederick (Word Pronouncer), and Bob Holowati (“Killer Bee”). Brittney Black (“Queen Bee”) will collect money from the audience when someone pays to keep a team in the game. The three judges will be Silverton Mayor Kyle Palmer, Silver Falls Superintendent Andy Bellando and Pastor Steve Knox.

While bee team members must be aged 18 and up, all ages are welcome to attend. Proceeds will benefit the Kiwanis Club for establishing a Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL), and other child-focused programs, in Silverton. The beloved country music star’s award-winning literacy program, established in 1995, mails one book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth through their fifth birthday. She started the program in her home of Sevier County, Tennessee, to encourage a love of reading and learning. Its success has spread across the country. By the end of January, the DPIL delivered its 115,144,428th book.

Silver Falls Library Director and Kiwanis Bee Co-Chair Christy Davis is thrilled “to put books in the hands
of kids.”

“It’s a zip code-based program, so we’re looking at Silverton, Scotts Mills and a little bit of Sublimity,” Davis said. “We’re looking at the addresses in the Silver Falls School District and the Silver Falls Library District. When you become a partner with the DPIL, it’s a two-part commitment: you must have a champion who will register families, and you have to have a fundraising arm that will raise money to pay for the books. The library will serve for logistics, Kiwanis and our community for the funds. Children aged newborn through their fifth birthday are eligible for the program. There is no cost, but the child’s legal parent or guardian must sign up the child at the library.”

This is where the spelling bee comes into play. “The adult spelling bees started about a decade ago in Austin, Texas, to raise money for a literacy foundation,” Davis explained. “The idea caught on and then I heard about it in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, and the county school foundation there needed to raise funds for capital improvements. Then, in 2016 and 2017, at the Klamath County Library I was working with my library foundation board because we also needed to raise capital funds to do some improvements to our library and
branch libraries.”

Now it’s Silverton’s turn.

“The first team I drafted as a sponsor was the ‘Friends of the Silver Falls Library.’ They know how important this is. Getting the kids to sign up for this at the library – and we’ll maintain the database for Dolly’s program – will be really good because the parents/caregivers will come in, sign-up for the program and get rolling. While they’re there, we can introduce them to the library if it’s new to them,” Davis said, adding, “We hope to have enough money raised to start signing up youth in May, but if not, we’ll continue to raise funds until we do.”

Kiwanis President and fellow Bee Co-Chair Lisa Santana, of Bledsoe Santana Team Realty, is looking forward to watching her business partner perform.

“Our office has sponsored two teams with Dixon Bledsoe and his daughter, Briana Hupp, competing against each other. The people I’ve talked to are excited to be on a team. We’re trying to get a team of Rotarians together because we like competition,” Santana said. The spelling bee consists of 12 three-person teams competing against each other in six rounds, plus a final round.

Official rules will be followed with the help of the pronouncer and panel of judges.

But there is a fun tweak in the gamebook: “There’s a special weird rule that if they misspell a word – and they have someone in the audience who really wants them to stay in – they can give the ‘Queen Bee’ $50,” Davis said. When they miss a second word, the amount increases to $100. The third, and final time, bumps up to $150.

Who chooses the words used in the bee? “I already have a proprietary word list that was created by a bee elsewhere. The only person who will see these words prior to the bee will be me and the pronouncer,” Davis said. Themed team costumes are encouraged, as are funny/inventive names. So far, the following team names have been submitted: “The City Slickers” (City of Silverton), “The Krazy Goood Spellerzz” (Ticor Title), “Money Honeys” (Citizens Bank) and “The Liberry Ann’s” (Friends of the Silver Falls Library).

Entry fees per team are $300 – and include three additional guest tickets. Tickets are $20 per person until Feb. 20. After that, they will be $25 (and at the door). More sponsors are welcome, with special notice given to those donating $100 (“Honey Bee”), $200 (“Worker Bee”), $500 (“Queen Bee”) and $1,000 (“Killer Bee”).

Suitable donated silent auction items include: gift certificates for goods/services, bottles of wine or groupings of beer, honey, “bee-themed” or “word-themed” board games or motif items for the kitchen, office or home. As for dessert items, homemade/specialty ones are ideal. Store-bought desserts are also gladly accepted. Food items can be dropped off at the Bledsoe Santana Team Realty office one day before the event.

To purchase tickets, sponsor the event, or ask questions – contact Davis, 541-331-1897,, or Santana, 503-930-7793, or Brian Mitchell, 503-874-8808,

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