To the Editor:

Here we are at the beginning of the season where our spirits are supposed to be high and our hearts filled with joy, but after this recent campaign season, I was having a little trouble getting into the mood, until I decided to look locally and pay some attention to the people and groups who do so much for our community.

Near the very top of my list is The Children’s Center of New Milford.

For over 40 years they have been serving the children and families in our community.

I speak from experience because 39 years ago I was one of those families; my now 43-year-old son was one of those children.

It was an emotionally and financially difficult time for me and that could not help but spill over onto my son.

The Children’s Center was not only a great educational experience but was very much a stabilizing environment for him and, as a result, for me as well.

I was so impressed with the experience that I vowed I would give back to the center when my life settled and I had the time.

I’ve been privileged to serve as a member of the center’s board of directors for more than 25 years. I’ve learned a lot in those years.

For instance, my story is not unique. Affordable preschool care can make a tremendous difference for families facing difficult times.

It’s a commitment based on a belief instilled in the center by its founder, Barbara Hamlin.

Every child, no matter what their circumstance, deserves a right at a chance of a future. Not a guarantee of success, but a chance.

I’ve also come to realize how important those early years are to a child’s development.

The center’s hands-on learning curriculum and its well-earned reputation for quality, evidenced by its long-standing accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, draws families from all backgrounds to our doors.

I recently asked one of our teachers, a woman who holds a degree in psychology, why she chose to teach at The Children’s Center when she could make so much more with the public schools.

Her answer: “This is a period of incredible change in a person’s life so this is where I can have the greatest impact on a child’s development. Research consistently shows that positive development in these early years is an essential element for success in later years. This is the most important job on the planet!”

As I sit down at my Thanksgiving table I will certainly give thanks for my family, my friends, and for The Children’s Center’s remarkable teachers, past and present, who devote so much of their time and energy to the care and education of our community’s children.

Bill Quinnell

board member

The Children’s Center

New Milford