We Bid Farewell to Longtime Committee Chair, Supporter

Collaborative for Children thanks Dee Dee Guzman for all her hard work.

Collaborative for Children thanks Dee Dee Guzman for all her hard work.

Collaborative for Children said goodbye to devoted advocate Dee Dee Guzman, who is leaving Texas. Over the years, she worked tirelessly to help in our mission to improve the quality of early education.

Her work with Collaborative for Children dates back to the 1990s, when the organization was named “Initiatives with Children.” Guzman is credited with helping create Collaborative for Children’s Early Childhood Education Industry Committee and serving as chair since 2006. The committee aims at helping improve the early education industry, and is made up of education professionals from a number of agencies, including the Houston Independent School District and Head Start. The group helps identify gaps and works to close in early education.

During a surprise reception, Collaborative for Children staff shared their fondest memories of Guzman. “She set an example in her company on what needs to be done for families and for children,” Collaborative for Children President and CEO Carol S. Shattuck said. “She is a passionate advocate for early childhood education.”

Guzman reflected on a specific moment that impacted her desire to advocate for quality early childhood education. While visiting a child care center several years ago, Guzman said she was shocked by the lack of resources available at the center.

Guzman helped create our Early Childhood education Industry Committee.

Guzman helped create our Early Childhood Education Industry Committee.

“I had never seen a center lacking so much,” Guzman said. “Children were alone, sitting in high chairs, watching TV. There was nothing else. I was shocked there was no caregiver interacting with the children. They just though it was OK. It made me understand what we were fighting for or fighting against.”

Guzman was instrumental in an initiative in 2013 to provide free in-service training to pre-K teachers. She also helped create http://txgulfcoastearlyed.org/, an online resource site for early educators in the Texas Gulf Coast. The site allows child care administrators to address any human resources needs they may have.

Collaborative for Children commended Guzman for her ability to use her professional corporate skills with her passion to fight for early education. “The combination of passion for children and the business world has been so helpful to us,” Collaborative for Children Vice President of Programs & Collaboration Development Sul Ross said.

Guzman said she draws some of her inspiration to help the public from her former position in the workforce. “I do think there’s a corporate social responsibility,” she said. “I think the corporations of the world have a responsibility to raise everyone around them. There is a role for corporations to do good.”

Guzman joined Collaborative for Children in 1996.

Guzman joined Collaborative for Children in 1996.

Another source of motivation for Guzman is our own President and CEO, Carol S. Shattuck. “Carol does a really amazing job at pulling together this cause,” Guzman said. “Early education is a very complicated issue. She has perfectly walked that tight rope and has been able to move that complicated ball of issues on a very steep mountain—with very incredible determination. She’s an incredible leader and incredibly smart.”

Guzman is moving to Atlanta, where she will reside with her husband and three teenage boys.

 

 

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Joint Volunteer Project, A Success

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Spectra Energy joined Collaborative for Children in a volunteering project that helped beautify Sunshine Child Care, Inc. in Houston’s Sunnyside community.

Eight Spectra Energy employees took part in the effort on April 14, as part of the company’s Helping Hands in Action campaign. Every April, Spectra employees have the opportunity to participate in one of about a dozen volunteer projects throughout Houston.

Employees with Spectra Energy, as well as Sunshine Child Care and Collaborative for Children, planted more than 160 plants in the center’s playground area. The group completed the project in roughly two hours, despite dreary weather with rain and temperatures in the 50s.

The planting project attracted Andrew Alonzo, who works in Spectra Energy’s Corporate Finance division. Alonzo said he participated in the gardening effort after taking part in another Collaborative for Children project last year at Teeter Totter Village child care center, also in Sunnyside.

“I like this organization,” Alonzo said. “Collaborative for Children does a good job helping these [child care] facilities.”

Clark Lamdrum, a Spectra Energy Business Development Commercial Associate, worked with Collaborative for Children to help organize the volunteering opportunity. “[The project] fits with Spectra’s culture to help,” Landrum said. “We’re out here to help out those in need, especially in early childhood development.”

Sunshine Child Care Director Rylanda Martin was touched by the volunteers’ efforts to revamp the center’s garden. “This means they care,” Martin said. “These people are concerned about the child care community. It shows sharing and caring.”

Sunshine Child Care participates in Collaborative for Children’s College Bound from Birth initiative.  The program works to improve kindergarten readiness, with the ultimate goal of increasing college preparation rates.

About 60 children between one and six years old are currently enrolled in the child care center, which is located on South Acres Drive. Sunshine Child Care, a family-owned business, has been operating in Sunnyside for more than 30 years.

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