• 64°

Smart Start Rowan picnic celebrates end of year

Happy

Noah Hicks, 9, and his brother, Bryson, 6, hold stuffed animals their mom, Jamie, let them pick out with her Baby Bucks. Photo by Susan Shinn

Noah Hicks, 9, and his brother, Bryson, 6, hold stuffed animals their mom, Jamie, let them pick out with her Baby Bucks. Photo by Susan Shinn

By Susan Shinn

Smart Start Rowan

SALISBURY — It was a beautiful day for a picnic, as nearly three dozen staff members, children and parents gathered for an end-of-the-year celebration sponsored by Smart Start Rowan.

The picnic, held June 2 at Granite Civic Park in Granite Quarry, featured a delicious meal catered by El Patron, Wahoo’s Diner and Chick-Fil-A, the awarding of certificates for parents who participated in the Circle of Parents and Parents as Teachers support groups, and shopping with Baby Bucks, an incentive program in which the parents participated.

They received the bucks, said Mary Burridge, Smart Start Rowan’s program manager, by completing home visits or attending group programs. They received 10 additional Baby Bucks for coming to the picnic. With the green dollars, they could purchase toys and baby supplies. It was the big hit of the day, as parents redeemed more than $200 worth of Baby Bucks.

The other big hit of the day — literally — was a piñata that the kids took turns trying to burst, from the youngest to the oldest. Finally, Smart Start Rowan’s Bianca Munoz-Norman, whose father Tirzo Ortiz donated the tough-to-break piñata, took a well-placed swing, and the candy went flying.

“It was layered pretty good,” Munoz-Norman said afterward.

Munoz-Norman attended the event with her husband, Henry Norman, and their two children, Emilio Norman, 5, and Lucy Norman, 2.

“That thing was heavy,” said Norman, who held onto the rope attached to the piñata. “It was loaded.”

Munoz-Norman first came to Smart Start Rowan to participate in its programs, has served as interim receptionist, and is now a childcare provider during support group meetings.

“The playroom is so great for the families,” she said. “I’m gonna miss these children this summer. We’ll pick up again after school starts.”

The couple’s son will enter kindergarten at China Grove Elementary School this fall, and is well prepared, thanks to Smart Start Rowan, his mom said.

“Having him with other children and using the Early Learning Resource Center and attending community events like this has been wonderful,” Munoz-Norman said. “There are so many resources out there that I know about because of Smart Start Rowan.”

Jamie Hicks attended the picnic with her three boys, Noah, 9, Bryson, 6, and Micah, 14 months. She had about two dozen Baby Bucks to spend.

She let her older boys each pick out a toy. Both chose a small stuffed animal — a lion that becomes a monkey.

“Thank you, Mom,” they chorused.

“You’re very welcome,” Hicks said.

Burridge’s mom, Nancy, lent an extra set of hands to the preparations. She also helps with child care during the group meetings.

“Smart Start is her heart,” Nancy Burridge said of her daughter’s work. “Mary and I know each other so well. It makes things go so much smoother. I’m very proud of her. And I have the honor of helping raise my granddaughter, Greenleigh. She is a little character!”

Burridge gave a special shout-out to the three participating restaurants, which provided lunch at a “very good discount.”

“We love working with our community,” said Juan Cordova of El Patron. “It was a pleasure to partner with Smart Start Rowan for this celebration.”

“The meaning of ‘restaurant’ is a place to be restored,” said Dustin Wilson, marketing director of Chick-Fil-A of Salisbury. “We want to have a positive impact on the community in any way that we can. Smart Start Rowan is great, and we love supporting them because we know that they are helping kids and families in our community.”

Smart Start Rowan is a United Way Grantee Agency.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

Comments

Kannapolis

Cannon Mills’ whistle sounds again, brings nostalgia with it

Coronavirus

Outbreak at jail annex over; new cases emerge at Kannapolis facility

Elections

In Senate race, Tillis calibrates ties to Trump

News

5 Charlotte officers recommended for dismissal after death in custody

Elections

Trump, Biden hit unlikely battleground state of Minnesota

College

Maui Invitational moving to Asheville during pandemic

News

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 19

Coronavirus

Kannapolis brewery linked to eight COVID-19 positives

Elections

Local Democrats call to ‘turn the state blue’ during virtual office reopening

Education

Funding flat, enrollment down slightly for Rowan-Salisbury Schools

Education

Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year

Business

China Grove soap store sets sights on expansion into Kannapolis

News

Charlotte, UNC game canceled after 49ers place players in quarantine

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 18

Coronavirus

County sees ninth COVID-19 death this week, more than 30 cases reported

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces schools can move K-5 to plan A; school board vote needed locally

Local

Wet weather brings crashes, traffic to standstill on interstate

Crime

Salisbury man victim of Facebook scam, duped out of $2,000

Crime

Two charged after fight outside Salisbury home

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools ships out thousands of old devices for refurbishing

Education

Caught in the infodemic: NC school policies frustrated by scientific challenges

East Spencer

East Spencer to hold community day, provide free food, supplies

Education

Shoutouts