28 October 2007
(l to r) Vicky DeMuth - Community Pre-school Board Member, Susie Merrick - Community Pre-school Director, Samantha Ekert - 06-07 Junior League of Summit Community Vice President, Laura Burton - 06-07 Junior League of Summit President
JUNIOR LEAGUE OF SUMMIT ANNOUNCES COMMUNITY SERVICE HONOR
The Junior League of Summit (JLS) presented its 2007 Jean Hudson Gano Community Service Award at their Annual Dinner held at Fairmount Country Club in May 2007 to the Community Pre-school at St. John’s. This award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the community by either an individual or a non-profit organization. Through this award, the JLS honors Jean Hudson Gano, a JLS member and outstanding community volunteer who died of breast cancer in May of 1997 at 41 years old.
The Community Pre-school provided quality early childhood education for low to moderate income families in the Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights area for almost 43 years. The school’s mission was to “provide a quality education and to foster a community of learners.” The contribution this school has made to the often-overlooked children in our community is unparalleled. Susie Merrick, the school’s director for 20 years, has been described as a “tireless worker who always handled this big job with kindness and care” and someone who “has made a real difference in the lives of children and families.” Over 2000 children were prepared socially, academically and emotionally for kindergarten by the dedication of many committed staff members.
The JLS has had a long-standing relationship with the school. Many members have served on the school’s Board; and, from as far back as 1969 the JLS provided funding for the school, a van to transport students, an indoor climber and, at the school’s 25th anniversary, a $25,000 grant. Over the years, the Pre-school also received community block grants and funding from St. John’s Lutheran Church, the United Way, the Summit Area Public Foundation and a number of local businesses. Unfortunately, the school was forced to close in June. Rising costs and fundraising challenges made it impossible to continue operating. Board members and staff worked tirelessly to find area preschool placements for the remaining three-year olds in the program.
The Junior League of Summit is a nonprofit, charitable and educational organization of women who are committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. For more information about the Junior League of Summit, call the League office at 908-273-7349 or visit www.jlsummit.org.