Cumberland Times-News

May 23, 2013

Frostburg’s Bridge Program was important

Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND —  After hearing rumors of possible changes being made, I just wanted to take a few minutes to put into words what the Frostburg Bridge Program meant to me as a child. Growing up in Frostburg, my parents were small business owners, my mother a teacher, and my father worked for the postal service.

I attended St. Michael’s Elementary on Main Street, and my family was very active. I spent a lot of time in my family’s business after school, but as I got older and my parents’ work hours changed, I needed a place to go after school. My mom found Leticia and the Bridge Program and enrolled me.

Leticia would pick us up after school across Main St. at the Palace Theater and we would all walk up the street to the church. We would sing, and chat about our day along the way.

I remember being able to hang out and socialize with a lot of other children while we did homework, played outside, and played educational games. The Bridge wasn’t just “day care” or “after school care,” it was a diverse, safe, and fun learning environment.

Leticia and other teachers at the Bridge kept us busy all year. I remember playing outside, in the sunshine and the snow. We would celebrate all kinds of different holidays together, including birthdays. I remember the spring shows we would put on for our families and friends.

I have a vivid memory of singing “Tiny Bubbles” on stage in a grass skirt with a choreographed dance during our Hawaiian celebration. During my time at the Bridge, one of the instructors was a musician, and she taught me piano lessons. I was terrible, but Leticia and the other staff members were very supportive!

The Bridge Program was somewhere that I enjoyed spending time and have many wonderful memories. I am now 27 years old, and looking back, I can appreciate all that the time, effort, energy and dedication that the staff put into their work on behalf of us children.

There were (and still are, almost 20 years later) children in the program from all walks of life, all kinds of cultural and economic backgrounds, and with different levels of need.

Leticia provides a place that is not only great for kids, but great for families. The Bridge Program provides a valuable resource for families in need of child care in the Frostburg area. There is no price to be placed on the security of knowing that your children are in a safe, caring, and supportive environment.

Losing the Bridge program would be a huge detriment to the local community, and most of all, to the children who are lucky enough to be part of such a great organization. Taking this positive and active program out of the community would be directly detrimental to a group of children who deserve to have better decisions made on their behalf.

I would personally like to thanks Leticia and the Bridge Program for being a part of my life, and I hope that as many children as possible get to have the same experience that I did, for years to come.

Egan S. Pratt