Village Preschool Seeks Assistance

Needs To Raise $20,000 By August 1

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Thursday, July 1, 2004

HAMPTON — For 10 years now, the Village Preschool has offered affordable before and after school care for Hampton Kindergartners and Head Start students, as well as a complete pre-school program during the school year and extended care from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. year-round.

Under the supervision of Director Virginia Bridle and about a half-dozen dedicated staff members, the Village Preschool has provided a safe, fun, and educational environment for the approximately 45 students who take part in its programs, which offer academics, literacy, arts and crafts, phys ed, and plenty of one-on-one interaction.

More than half of these students attend the school on scholarships funded through grants and corporate donations provided to the school. Though Bridle says that "we do have families that can and do pay" for their children's enrollment, many others — even if they are employed — depend upon the scholarships because they simply cannot pay but still need a place where they know their children will be well cared for, whether it's before, during or after the workday.

"Parents struggle to figure out how to take care of their children, and how to provide for them," says Bridle. The Village Preschool has helped parents meet those needs for a decade.

The current economical climate has brought in many requests for scholarships through the Village Preschool. Unfortunately, it has also brought a drop in the amount of regular support received from corporations and businesses, which in turn has left the school struggling and in need of a significant financial boost.

According to Bridle, "Without community financial support, the Village Preschool is in danger of closing." She adds that if the school does have to close its doors, it "will leave families limited options for preschool and childcare."

That is likely to be an upsetting thought for those families who are a part of the Village Preschool, which has been recognized by the State of New Hampshire's Division for Child, Youth and Family Services and has received the "Exemplary Leadership and Service Award."

Bridle says she "hope[s] to raise $20,000 by August 1." To do so, an incredible outpouring of financial support will need to take place during the month of July.

"We've always said it takes a village to raise a child," says Bridle. "We've never asked the whole village to help us out — and now we're asking them to." She adds, "We're not asking anyone for a large amount of money; we're asking for community support so the whole community can be involved" in saving the school.

Bridle says that she is looking at sending out a mass distribution of letters seeking support from the public, as well as possibly planning a community event to raise the much-needed funds. In the meantime, donations will be gratefully accepted and may be sent to The Village Preschool, 70 High Street, Hampton, NH 03842. For more information, call Director Virginia Bridle at 929-7349.