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Smart Start Rowan celebrates Child Care Provider Appreciation Day

By Susan Shinn Turner

Smart Start Rowan 

There were some pretty happy folks at child care centers across Rowan County on Friday. 

It was Child Care Provider Appreciation Day — the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week — and Smart Start Rowan partnered with community groups and individuals to make sure those employees know they are loved.

“Oh my gosh! I have three big words: awesome, awesome, awesome!” said Denise Lyerly, who operates Joy-N-The Morning Home Child Care. “Just for them to think of us and do something for us — my heart was overwhelmed.” 

The morning began with Smart Start Rowan employees delivering doughnuts and gift bags to the 25 child care centers that remain open. Typically, there are more than 40 centers on the roster, according to Jamie Guagliano, early education program lead, who headed up the effort. She noted that all Head Start and N.C. Pre-K programs are closed. 

“I was a teacher, and I know the way to a teacher’s heart is food!” she said. 

Not only did Smart Start Rowan coordinate to provide food, Guagliano put together gift bags as well. They included masks made by her neighbor, Marci Hamlin of Lexington. Her father, Terrance Guagliano, of Buffalo, New York, donated another 100 masks. Other contributors included Touched by Angels Home Healthcare and Sanitation Solutions of the Triad, both of Winston-Salem; Lydia Carter McLaughlin of Asheboro, Cathy Stewart of Salisbury, and Marnie Trivette of Winston-Salem.

“Everyone I contacted was very gracious,” Guagliano said. 

But that wasn’t all. 

Longtime Smart Start Rowan board member Jimmy Greene contacted Amy Brown, executive director, about providing lunch for the child care providers. 

“That floored us,” Guagliano said. “They donated 225 lunches.” 

Greene, a partner at Fisher-Greene Insurance Agency, recruited family and friends to deliver Chick-fil-A boxed lunches all over the county. 

“We had a great time today,” he said Friday. “The volunteers enjoyed it, and everybody loves free food.”

Erie Insurance, one of the companies his agency represents, had donated money for essential workers in the community. Greene immediately thought of child care providers, and called Brown, who told him that Friday was a special day to recognize them. 

Greene is good friends with Bo Hawkins, owner operator of Chick-fil-A at Towne Creek Commons, and Greene sat down with Emily Moore, marketing director, to work out the details. Both entities shared costs. 

“It just worked out great,” Greene said.  

“We were very excited this morning,” said Courtney Bost, director of St. John’s Child Development Center. “There was a sign posted on our front lawn that says ‘Heroes Work Here.’ The staff enjoyed having their pictures made with it. Doughnuts are always a good treat, and who doesn’t love Chick-fil-A? We were just showered with love all day. We could feel the love.”

Bost said that while a few children of essential workers have come to the center, it is below half of its normal capacity, and some providers have been furloughed. 

“Throughout all of this, Smart Start Rowan has been reaching out to us,” she said. “It’s good to have them in the community.” 

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