I had a busy week last week!
On Wednesday, Mike addressed the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate in the House Chamber at the Ohio Statehouse for the State of the State.
I always love being in the House Chamber. It has a lot of history, as it is where President-elect Abraham Lincoln spoke to a joint session of the legislature in February 1861 ahead of his first inauguration. It looks now as it did when Lincoln spoke; 25-five years ago, the chamber was restored to its original color scheme of salmon, straw yellow, and French blue.
I sat in the balcony along with our daughters, Jill and Anna, and grandchildren, Albert and Izzy. Mike spoke from the Speaker’s desk, describing not only the progress over the past two years but also the very bright future that Ohio has right now. I, too, feel it really is our time as Ohioans.
After the address — and between rain showers — we went out to the South Plaza of the Statehouse, across from the Ohio Theater, and planted a Dogwood tree. The tree, native to Ohio, represents renewal and rebirth.
“We plant this tree today as a symbol of our shared faith in Ohio’s future and as a recommitment to investing in things that may not have results today, but will transform tomorrow!” Mike said in his address. “The sun is coming up in Ohio, the wind is at our back, and together, we have the power to change the course of Ohio’s history!”
On Thursday, I got back to traveling and promoting the Imagination Library. We traveled to Steubenville in Jefferson County along the beautiful Ohio River to celebrate their Imagination Library program. Jefferson County is a county that did not have the Imagination Library until February 2020. Just as we were about to kick it off, COVID began, so the program started with no fanfare — but it grew nonetheless.
Amazingly, Jefferson County has more than 54 percent of eligible kids signed up already. They have been able to do it through their affiliate United Way, great local donors including Ascent Resources, and the support of their birthing hospitals whose staff sign up babies the day they are born.
I talked to one local pediatrician who told me that when children came in for their wellness check-ups, he was asking them if they were getting the Dolly Parton books. If they weren’t, he would sign them up on the spot, and share with the parents just how important and fun it is to read with their children. Having the pediatricians reach out is a great way to fill the gap in signing up kids. Parents trust their pediatricians.
At the Governor’s Residence we are so excited that spring has come. The snowdrops and Lenten roses have bloomed and the daffodils are opening up, surrounding the beautiful “To Life” family sculpture. The rhubarb is about 6 inches tall, visibly growing every day. As Mike said on Wednesday, “Everything is possible in the springtime!”
Happy Spring to you!
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.