ROSWELL, Ga. — The Child Development Association held a reception Feb. 23 celebrating their donors and officially introducing their new CEO and Executive Director Maggie DeCan.
"After leaving HoneyBaked Ham, I decided that I really wanted to do something that made a difference. The Child Development Association combined a passion for the importance of early education with impact in my own community and the chance to put years of leadership experience to use in a positive manner,” DeCan said.
Called “Roots & Wings,” the theme of the reception tied into a quote by Hodding Carter: “There are two gifts we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”
The CDA fulfills that goal by working with low-income families to provide affordable early learning programs and childcare to children who could not obtain it otherwise.
“It makes a huge difference if a child starts kindergarten ready to learn, having been socialized,” DeCan said. “That’s what the CDA enables. The children that come here can’t afford a $300-a-week preschool or daycare, and we make it very affordable for their families. Their families sacrifice a great deal to bring their kids here every day. We really appreciate you all making that all possible.”
The organization serves about 250 children in the Roswell location alone and, in total, about 3,000 children a year in the metro Atlanta area, according to board member Catherine Storey.
The CDA was founded in 1968 by Roswell citizens Lil McNair and Sylvia Hansell who dedicated themselves to childhood education and care.
“There was a child that died of starvation in this city, and they decided, ‘That’s not right. Not in Roswell,’” Storey said. “They wanted to make sure that there was enough food and education for children so that it wouldn’t happen again.”
The Roswell center launched in 1976 and continues to serve families in the area. Donations from help keep the center and its two other branches running and promote the CDA’s programs.
“We have found that Roswell is a very generous city,” Storey said.
The CDA has partnered with the Hagan family to issue a fundraising challenge with a goal of $300,000 total. The family will match, dollar-for-dollar, any donation of $100 or more for five years. The challenge has been going on for almost six months and has already brought in some of the largest amounts of individual donations that the CDA has ever seen, according to DeCan.
“We issued this matching grant, never thinking that it would be such a huge success,” said Bob Hagan. “The Child Development Association believes in education, and we need education for our children to succeed in life.
“I’m thrilled to be able to do this matching grant. We have so many new donors, some who did not know about the Child Development Association. [The CDA] is a jewel in the corner of Roswell that is so important and does so much.”
One of the biggest fundraising opportunities for the organization, the annual Down Home Derby, will once again be held May 6 at the Iron Horse in Milton.
“Remember, it’s for the kids,” Hagan said. “Our children need education to be successful. Our teachers need to be trained. Our teachers need equipment and supplies. That’s what this is all about.”
To learn about CDA, get involved or donate, visit cdakids.org.