Robert and Diane Findlay
Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask the House of Representatives to join me in recognizing Diane and Robert Findlay as Iowans of the Week.
Every day, people of all ages and backgrounds read books for different reasons. Some read books to spark their imagination, and others read books for more insight on fascinating topics. For Diane and Robert Findlay, books are so much more than that. The Findlays started a book club in their community of Dallas Center, Iowa called Read & Serve. This group is not your average get-together to discuss the week’s literature. The Read & Serve book club is made up of members of different faiths, like Baha’is, Christians, and free thinkers alike. While their faiths vary, they all share a common passion: community. Diane and Robert belong to the Baha’i faith, and they constantly look for opportunities to get involved in their local community, specifically through prayer, learning, and serving with neighbors and friends.
While the Read & Serve book club enjoys discussing their current readings, they also enjoy participating in service projects to further cultivate their collective sense of community. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Findlay’s book club still wanted to find a project to get involved with that allowed them to give back, albeit in a safe manner. They heard of a project happening in New York where people were donating their used books to local and county jails for the incarcerated individuals to delve into. The Read and Serve book club connected with the Dallas County Sheriff and Dallas County Jail to see what they could do to get new books into the facility.
The Findlay’s book club, with the help of the county jail, created a survey listing a multitude of genres to gauge the interest of the inmates. The survey showed they were interested in almost every genre imaginable. From Westerns to Shakespeare, Thrillers to Poetry, these individuals seemed eager to get their hands on the covers and their minds into the pages.
Since the Findlay’s have started this project, they have been sending new copies of used books to the Dallas County Jail every third Tuesday each month. After the local news covered their story, more and more people from across their community, even across the country, contacted the Findlay’s stating their desire to contribute books. Even an author from Texas contributed signed copies of books they have published all because they were inspired by the Findlay’s story.
Diane and Robert have felt the most rewarding aspect of their project is seeing how much interest has been generated in their community and around the country. They have received many calls and emails expressing gratitude for their efforts to support a community within our country that is often forgotten. Many of these calls and emails are accompanied by requests to send the Findlays more books, or even requests for instructions as to how others can start similar projects in their own communities.
Books can make profound impacts on the lives of readers. Books inform us, captivate us, and allow us to grow through the stories and narratives laid out on the pages. I’m proud of the work constituents like Diane and Robert are doing, and I’m thrilled that their desire to serve their community has made an impact on communities across the nation. I am honored to designate Diane and Robert Findlay as our Iowans of the Week.