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Feeling ‘blessed’ — and now honored

New York Teacher
Five winners pose for the camera
Miller Photography

Legacy Award winners Lorraine Williams (second from left) and Melvina VanDross (third from left) are congratulated by (from left) Providers Chapter Chair Tammie Miller and Brooklyn's Brough Chair Sherease Alston and Vice Chair Melissa Reed.

Majorie Carter pins a corsage onSarah O’Shaugnessy.
Miller Photography

Majorie Carter (left) pins a corsage on Exceptional Educator Award recipient Sarah O’Shaugnessy.

Being a family child care provider has its rewards. Just ask Lorraine Williams.

“I had a 15-year-old mother come to me to care for her child,” said Williams, who runs a group family day care out of her home in the Bronx. “And because I was able to care for that child, that 15-year-old was able to go back to school and get her high school diploma. I’m blessed to be able to do this.”

But on this night, she would receive another reward.

Williams, one of the founders of the UFT Family Child Care Providers Chapter, was a recipient of one of the two Legacy Awards given at the fifth annual Provider Appreciation Awards on May 11.

“Tonight is all about you,” Chapter Chair Tammie Miller told the 26 honorees and their guests who packed the UFT’s Shanker Hall in Manhattan to celebrate the work done by those who educate children before they begin formal education.

Besides a plaque, awardees received City Council proclamations honoring them for their work as early educators — important work that has been enhanced by new professional development opportunities and supply grants since the group chose to join the UFT in October 2007.

“Before we had a union, the women who did this job often didn’t even know where their money came from,” said Melvina VanDross, a Bronx provider and founding member who was the other Legacy Award winner. “When there was a problem getting paid, they didn’t know who to call.”

In welcoming the honorees, Miller noted: “This has been a productive chapter since its inception. You are women of standards. You are women of distinction.”

LeRoy Barr, the UFT assistant secretary and the event’s keynote speaker, made a point of stressing the value of the providers’ work.

“The information you provide and time you spend with children every day helps them enter school ready to learn and exceed expectations,” Barr said.

While it was their night to be recognized, the award winners said their true rewards come from doing their jobs every day.

“It’s a privilege to enter the world of a child and to have these children invite you into their world,” VanDross said. “I’ve seen a lot of children take their first steps in 32 years of doing this job.”

For a complete list of award winners, see the sidebar.

See more photos in the gallery »