Having safe, fun and nurturing caregivers is a vital part of a child’s success. Two such caregivers are Bonnie Rouse and Carol Shong. Bonnie and Carol recently retired from the Bobbe Bridge Drop-In Child Care Center at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, committing their careers to helping children. The drop-in child care center is for children ages one to 12 when parents or guardians are conducting court-related business.
“One father who had his child at the center about four times heard I was retiring and brought me a latte out of the blue commenting he didn’t know what he would have done without me,” Bonnie said. “I was so moved. The sense of giving back to the parents and being there for their children is why I stayed with CHSW for 21 years.”
Bonnie and Carol managed the Renton Technical College Childcare Center together before joining CHSW. Bonnie encouraged Carol to apply for a position at CHSW, so they could continue their partnership to support children and families.
“Parents come into the building with a lot of fears due to their reasons for being at the courthouse and we offer a secure and special place for their kids to be when they are faced with anxiety,” Bonnie said. “I’m so thankful for my connection to CHSW. Their mission statement was something I always aspire to uphold.”
Bonnie was a substitute teacher in Kent elementary school before joining CHSW. In 1998, she joined CHSW as a home visitor in the Early Head Start program for three years teaching parents about their child’s development.
“Children sometimes confuse Bonnie and I, which is a great compliment, as we both strive to have consistent and fun interactions with the kids,” Carol said. “Bonnie and I have enjoyed work together for many years. We have even vacationed together numerous times, forging a lifelong relationship thanks to our time at CHSW.”
Bonnie and Carol mentioned that children remember their time at the center no matter how brief.
“One parent shared that when they drove by the courthouse, their child pointed out the window and said take me back, I like that place,” Bonnie said.
“CHSW is an asset to the community and I have always been proud to say who I work for in the 16 years I have been at the center,” Carol said. “When we announced our retirement, the courthouse and CHSW gave Bonnie and I a wonderful retirement party. One of the judges expressed his appreciation of the work we have enjoyed, which made us feel wonderful.”
Bonnie plans to travel with her husband hopefully to Hawaii, or maybe even Patagonia, while Carol is looking forward to exploring textile art and walking trails with her husband.
“Bonnie and Carol provided a great service to children who may be experiencing a chaotic time in their lives and are brought to the courthouse under stressful circumstances,” Robin said. “It has inspired me to carry on their legacy. There won’t be a day that goes by that I am not reminded of them and all they have given to this program.”
Jennifer Parsons is the marketing communications manager for CHSW.