Friday, December 17, 2021

Business surprises daycare workers by paying their utility bills


Before they walked into a conference room, four daycare workers were told Friday morning that they were finalists for a special surprise.

It turned out all four were Gift of Comfort winners.

One held back tears of joy. “You’re gonna make me cry,” Pre-K teacher Felicia Bond said after learning of the gift. “I’m a single parent. It’s so nice to be thought of and appreciated,” she said.

Educational assistant Jasmine Harris agreed. “I’m so excited. I’m glad I’m one of the ones that was picked. I’m so thankful.”

Stephon Smallwood, CEO and founder of Building Blocks Mentoring Program and his wife and partner, Catina Smallwood, gave a total of $1,000 to help pay for the utility bills for the four staffers who work at the Ridgeway Early Learning Center, 3435 Ridge Meadow Parkway.

The Gift of Comfort program allows individuals or businesses to make a payment toward a customer’s utility bill as a gift.

Nutrition Support staffer Marilyn Henderson called Smallwood’s gesture wonderful. “I’m very appreciative. This year has been really hectic for me. Trying to work and stay well.”

Pre-K teacher Tiffany Baines added that this year has been another adjustment with her and her students following COVID protocols. Still, she knows she’s where she’s supposed to be. “This teaching is a calling. It’s a gift. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

It’s that kind of dedication that the Smallwoods and Building Blocks Mentoring Program honored. “This year has been a rough year,” Stephon Smallwood said. “We wanted to do something different. Teachers are always paying for materials and school supplies. We wanted them to have a blessed and Merry Christmas during the holidays.”

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