Too often, Kentuckians think that in order to make a big impact on the lives of those less fortunate, one must first possess large sums of money, resources or an impressive organization. First Lady Jane Beshear today celebrated the phenomenal successes of a man whose selflessness and concern for others proves the undeniable power of one to make a difference.
Jim Davis of Shepherdsville, in Bullitt County, has made his top priority in his own final hours ensuring some of Kentucky’s most disadvantaged children and teens have the strong foundation they need for a successful life.
Mr. Davis was deeply moved by a documentary he watched focusing on Appalachia, which shed light on the devastating number of high school dropouts and the distressing use of illegal drugs by teens in some Eastern Kentucky counties.
A father of four and retired truck driver, Mr. Davis saw the program while at home recovering from intensive rounds of radiation for cancers found in his hip, brain and lungs in early 2009. Diagnosed in January, the doctors gave him eighteen months to live.
After watching the documentary, Mr. Davis began calling around to friends, relatives, neighbors, churches and Bullitt County Schools, asking people to help him collect 100,000 books for libraries in Eastern Kentucky that needed them.
Word got out quickly.
Soon, children’s books, text books, books on tape, books of poetry and beyond began pouring in from across the state and country, with donations made by helping hands as far away as California. Barnes and Noble also got involved, donating 7,000 books towards Mr. Davis’s goal.
Mrs. Beshear, working with the Finance and Administration Cabinet, helped Mr. Davis coordinate the delivery of over 30,000 books from his home in Bullitt County to libraries in Carter, Elliott, Menifee, Magoffin, Lee, Letcher and Powell County. Hit especially hard by tough economic times, these libraries have struggled to keep their shelves stocked with reading materials.
“Mr. Davis’s story is truly a testament to the power of one,” First Lady Jane Beshear said. “Thanks to his kindness and generosity, libraries will be able to help children find a love of reading, learning and lay a strong foundation for their future through education. His altruism is an inspiration to us all.”
Mrs. Beshear joined with Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) Commissioner Onkst and Mr. Davis today to deliver a truckload of books to Powell County and celebrate the charitable spirit of a remarkable Kentuckian.
“I want to extend my greatest gratitude for all the books that were donated to us,” Jaclyn Cox, Director of the Rocky J. Adkins Public Library in Elliott County, said. “We try to do everything we can for our community, but with limited income it makes it hard. I am very grateful for the resources to help with homework. I provide after school help for all students. I also provide homework for the mentally disabled that go to the Senior Citizens building. The books and resources were a great asset to our library.”