HQC Child Development Center hosts luau to thank volunteers

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Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas 

Employees of the McNamara Headquarters Complex Child Development Center honored volunteers at the Aug. 7 with a tropical luau-themed cookout, complete with pulled pork, tropical drinks and tiki torches in appreciation for their service and dedication.

“We’re recognizing our parents who support the center through volunteering,” Petra Lemley, the program director for infants and toddlers at the center, said. “They help by putting on events and raising money so we can have things like field trips, puppet shows or other events.

Volunteers also assist the CDC by performing various tasks, such as reading to children, setting up book fairs, hosting fundraisers, and organizing class photos. The proceeds raised from these fundraisers are given to the center.

“I would use the word essential to describe the volunteers,” Angela Wilmore, executive director of the CDC, said. “We have the staffing, but our volunteers are what really make up the grit of the CDC.”

Cherise Gordon, CDC program manager, agreed, saying that the participation from volunteers is a large factor in the CDC’s success.

“We have at least 70-to-80 percent of the parents participate in one way or another,” she said. “I’ve been working in child care for 20 years, and this is the place where I’ve seen the most parent support.”

Wilmore added that the volunteers at the CDC comes from people across the HQC and aren’t limited to parents of students.

“A lot of our military members have families that aren’t stationed here,” Gordon said. “Volunteering gives them a way to become part of our own little community.”

The center was constructed in 1998 and currently has more than 250 children enrolled.

Phil Hepperle, an equal employment opportunity specialist with the Defense Contract Management Agency, said the cookout was a great way to for parents and volunteers to get to know each other better.

“Many times, parents just drop their kids off here and have to go off to work,” he said. “This is a much more relaxed environment, where everybody can kind of get to know each other better.”

Wilmore opened the cookout by welcoming everyone and talking about the center, its history and the importance of volunteering. After food was served, awards were given to those who volunteered more than 25 hours and certificates for all others.

Parents like Andrew Green, a market analyst for DLA Acquisition, volunteered by reading the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham.”  Initially he did it for his son, who attends the center, but later admitted he enjoyed reading for the children.

“I like reading books to the kids,” he said. “It’s fun to see the other children enjoy it.”

Like others in attendance, Green said he also came to meet other parents and volunteers and to socialize.

“I came out for the chance to meet other parents from the CDC, get some food and a break from work,” Green said. “I think it’s nice they say thank you for giving back.”

Angela Wilmore, executive director of the CDC, speaks to parents and volunteers at a tropical-themed luau at the HQC Pavilion Aug. 7. Volunteers assist the center by performing various tasks, such as reading to children, setting up book fairs, hosting fundraisers, and organizing class photos. Photo by Teodora Mocanu
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