Provider appreciation dinner spotlights caregivers

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Attendees dance to the music during the Child Development Center and School Age Care program appreciation night at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, May 4, 2018. The night recognized the work CDC and SAC personnel contribute to Schriever children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Fifty four child care providers attended a Provider Appreciation Dinner May 4 at the Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado Event Center to honor their hard work, providing care for children on base.

The day is intended to recognize all those who nurture, teach and care for children in multiple settings across the country. 

Along with dedicated caregivers, the night also paid tribute to cooks, food service workers, administrative staff, trainers and managers.

The 1970s and 1980s themed event included a potluck-style dinner, complete with disc jockey Lt. Col. Joe Clemmer, director of operations with the 17th Test Squadron, who encouraged attendees to dance the night away.

Mary Barkley, child and youth services flight chief with the 50th Force Support Squadron, began the appreciation dinner three years ago, stemming from an idea she had at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

When she arrived at Schriever AFB, she worked with the parent advisory board to sponsor the event.

“I wanted providers to have a stress free, fun night where they can relax and let someone take care of them,” she said. “They are the ones who are always taking care of everyone else.”

Barkley added the night would not have been a success without the help of the Airman’s Council and Parent Advisory Board.

“I’m so thankful to Natalie McCoy and CJ Thornton for all the work they did for the event,” Barkley added. 

 Lt. Col. Merrell Mobley, commander of the 50th Force Support Squadron, kicked off the night with a few words about why this event is important, and praised all workers in the Child Development Center and School Age Care program.

“As a squadron, Lt. Col. Mobley tries to have events during lunch, but a lot of times, they (caregivers) don’t get an opportunity to participate,” she said. “We want to honor them for all the work they do.”

Different organizations joined in showing appreciation by sponsoring themed tables such as the 50th Security Forces Squadron, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and the management team from the Child Development Center and School Age Care program.

Table themes included Dr. Seuss, luau, camping and Cat in the Hat.

Barkley added the best part of the night was the themed tables because the staff appreciated all the work the various agencies did to support the event.

Natalie McCoy, president of the Parent Advisory Board and Airman’s Council and head of the event, and CJ Thornton, vice president, said they chose the particular day because it fell during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Both McCoy and Thornton emphasized the importance of honoring not only teachers, but the entire provider staff.

“These are the people who raise our kids, including front staff trainers, everybody who works in the CDC and School Age Care program. It’s anyone who impacts the kids,” McCoy added.

Preparation for the event took a few months, and with the help of other agencies on base, the event was a success.

“The event was fantastic,” Barkley said. “I received a lot of positive feedback regarding the event, and the staff want the same venue for next year.”

McCoy and Thornton said the night was the least they could do to show their support for the childcare providers.

“I’ve been here for a long time, and my kids don’t know any other CDC, but they have supported me with both my kids for years, and that’s priceless,” McCoy said.

Thornton agreed with McCoy, and emphasized the appreciation he has for the providers.

“They help with so many different variations, and they go above and beyond to help you,” he said. “They all make it feel like a family atmosphere as much as they can and treat you with the utmost respect. This event was something we could finally give back to them.”