Main Event: Parents raise money for 'very, very special place'

Angela and Ash Gupta of Rochester enjoyed the event and were looking forward to the trolley ride to the Balfour House home of the Civic League Day Nursery.

Nearly 60 parents and grandparents, teachers and staff of Civic League Day Nurserygathered Feb.13 for the first ever " Share Your Love," a benefit for the childcare center.

The evening began at Cambria Gallery, where guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before traveling by trolley for a tour of the historic Donald C. Balfour House, site of the daycare center.

More than $10,000 was raised to provide educational enrichment and tuition assistance, as well as funds for the upkeep of the home.

The original house was built in 1874 and was remodeled and expanded in 1910 as a wedding present from Dr. Will Mayoand his wife to their daughter Carrieand her new husband Dr. Donald Balfour.

CLDN executive director Jacqueline Benoit-Petrichcommented on the history of the home before guests took a self-guided tour.


"The house was full of children when the Balfours lived here," she said. "And it's filled with children again. It is home to their happy voices and the love that is here."

Currently, some 85 children — 16 months to kindergarten — are enrolled at the center.

"Once you experience Civic League Day Nursery, you're hooked," Benoit-Petrich added. "It's a very, very special place. Wonderful preparation for kindergarten.

"It's been a hallmark of Rochester for 85 years," said board member Marie Ferguson, whose two children attend the center. "The constant learning situation and social interaction was the perfect thing."

Ferguson said one of her sons particularly enjoyed the science and nature lessons in "Miss Cindy's" classroom.

"She gave him the gift of science," Ferguson said.

Cindy Sullivan(Miss Cindy) has been teaching at CLDN nearly 40 years.

"I like the old house, the homey atmosphere," she said. "And that it's close to lots of parks. We take lots of outings. It's important to teach children love and respect for each other and the world around them."


Board member Angela Gupta, who attended with husband Ash, has two children who are alumni of Civic League.

"It was our neighborhood school," she said. "Easy to walk or bike to. They liked the teachers and made lots of friends. The house itself has sort of a Harry Potter-ish theme to it. Lots of nooks and crannies."

Sisters Ann, Jean, and Sharon Erieattended with their sister, Janice Torres. Torres's grandson Sebastianattends the center.

"It's such a warm, nurturing atmosphere," Torres said. "When he wakes up in the morning, he's ready to go to school."

Attendees Karland Mia Corriganare the parents of three sons, all alumni of Civic League.

"We were very happy with them," Karl said. "The teachers are phenomenal. Many have been there 25 years or more."

"Miss Doreen, the cook, was great," Mia added. "She met our son's special dietary needs."

"As a Mayo employee, I always wanted daycare," said attendee Jacque Saltness. "There need to be more places like this. My kids couldn't get in, it was full. This is a great place. Staff have been here forever. They're happy. They're engaged. This is their life."


Attendee Heather Rygis a teacher of 4- and 5-year-olds at the center. She said she enjoys working with her fellow teachers.

"They have a genuine passion for teaching," she said. "It's a rare thing, something I haven't encountered at any other center I've worked at.

This is where I would want my kids — if I had any — to be. Their heart is in it."

For more information on Civic League Day Nursery, visit .

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