Inspirational, imaginative and innovative. Those words perfectly describe Mary Stitt. Many years ago, she had a vision and dedicated her time and efforts into making that vision a reality for the Arlington Heights community.
In the 1980’s, Mary noticed an increased number of households that had both parents or guardians working. When she was growing up, children needed to go home for lunch unless they lived more than eight blocks away from their school. Parents, no matter how close or far they lived from the school, began to demand that their children could eat lunch at school instead of coming home. The more she got together with her neighbors, friends and family, she learned that in addition for children to be able to eat lunch at school, there was a need for offering before and after school care in households where both parents or guardians were working. This is where the district’s before and after school care program, Children at Play (CAP), was created.
Mary worked closely with Roger Key and the Arlington Heights Park District to create a model that was developed by Barrington Park District and the local school districts. She brought the idea of developing a before and after school care program to the Park Board and Park Board President, Arlene Mulder, along with Roger Key, championed this idea. She was encouraged to work with School District 25 on this idea and shortly after contacted the Village of Arlington Heights to gauge an interest on this important program. The modal worked perfect: the District would manage the program, the school would provide spaces and the Village provides financial backing for families in need.
This vital partnership has provided over 30 years of quality, safe and affordable before and after care services. CAP has expanded its reach and works with School Districts 21, 25 and 59. CAP serves more than 1,000 families at 12 program sites and is the District’s highest revenue generating program.
The School Districts, Village and Park District are truly in debt to Mary Stitt for her innovation, vision and dedication. Without her, CAP would not be the program it is today and it is an honor to induct her to the 2023 Legacy Wall.
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