Each year, June is so often a month of celebration with its many graduations, proms, awards and promotion ceremonies. For Children’s Friend, it is our Annual Meeting and the last day of classes for Head Start. Both were celebrated last week and I’d like to give you a glimpse into how special both events were thanks to the dedicated staff who plan every detail. It was a whirlwind week filled with so many memorable moments.
On Wednesday, classes celebrated the last day of school. Teachers and teacher assistants have been planning for months to make the day special for their children. Many classes celebrated diversity and multiculturalism through song, craft, and costumes. Another classroom explored outer space with families, a Luau was celebrated at our Dexter Center, and the Berkshire Center celebrated our favorite children’s books throughout the classrooms. Families were encouraged to participate and join in the fun. Many thanks to our great staff who ensure that the last days of school is a lasting memory for our children and families!
Thursday marked the agency’s 183rd Annual Meeting with a gathering of our 400+ staff, Board members, and special guests. We celebrated staff awards for five, ten and fifteen years of service and Children’s Friend paid a special tribute to our longtime partner, Panera Bread, for their generosity, leadership, and continued volunteerism. Over the last fifteen years, Panera Bread has raised over $500,000 for our programs and services, and has led the way in planning and participating in our events throughout the years – from our Walk held each Spring, to the Corporate Luncheon in the fall, and the Holiday Drive each December, Panera Bread is by our side in everything we do. We cannot thank them enough for their steadfast commitment to our children and families. Click here to see our video tribute to Panera Bread!
Children’s Friend also presented the agency’s highest honor, the Michelle Norris Award, posthumously awarded to our friend, teacher and Head Start champion, Kimberly Pettaway, who passed away last spring. This award is a highlight of the event each year, named in memory of Michelle Norris, a Central Falls first grader who was abducted from her neighborhood and murdered in 1988. The award memorializes not only Michelle, but also all children whose lives are lost to violent crime and poverty. Kim was a skilled educator, tireless advocate, and true champion for our most vulnerable children. Her outstanding work ethic, boundless energy, and warm smile positively impacted thousands of children and their families through her 25+ years of dedicated service to Head Start. She is missed every day, but her legacy lives on in our classrooms.
It’s so important to celebrate these milestones and remember the remarkable folks who have made Children’s Friend what it is, an agency that is truly committed to our most vulnerable young children and their families. Thank you all for what you do every day.