By Ava Genho and Roxanna Pearl Beebe-Center
Special to the Rappahannock News
On the outskirts of Little Washington, a large, hand-painted sign reading “CCLC Garden Party” directs you to rumble up a gravel driveway past a lucid lake graced by several geese. An old, green and red hay wagon toting several square bales greets you. Women in bonnets, boots and petticoats set the Little House on the Prairie theme for the non-profit’s fifth annual fundraiser.
This year’s CCLC fundraiser, held at the newly restored Washington home of Dee and Chuck Akre, had a Little House on the Prairie theme. Photos by Roxanna Pearl Beebe-Center
Many members of the community, both full timers and weekenders, bought tickets to support the county’s largest child care center. While Lorraine Duisit and Miranda Hope played old cowboy tunes, the adults snacked and talked beside the huge Victorian-style house nestled in a well-kept garden worthy of Buckingham Palace.
Dozens of children in prairie-themed outfits and sporting flower crowns, darted in and out of a teepee and played old-fashioned games. Sixty percent of families at CCLC receive financial support; the evening raised funds for those scholarships through ticket sales and a silent auction.
Fred Catlin, CCLC’s executive director, said: “First of all, we’re not daycare, we’re child care. And that’s an important distinction. The children are always first. We provide the service of caring and nurturing for children, but we also have a nationally recognized curriculum, called creative curriculum, that we use that is considered one of the best ones out there. So our children are not only being cared for, but they’re also receiving the educational foundation they need to go and be successful in elementary school.”
The items up for auction included lunches, dinners, wine tastings, flowers from Flourish Root and several projects made by CCLC’s students. Among them was a walking stick, a bird bath and a wooden box painted with prairie animals and a covered wagon.
Part of the evening’s allure was a glance at the mysterious house that has been worked on for so long. Dee and Chuck Akre have been working on the historic 40-acre property for about four years. The original part of house, which Chuck Akre described as Italianate, was built in 1850; additions were added in the twentieth century. After they bought the house, the Akres removed the two additions, which Chuck stated were off center, and added additions of their own. The couple built a spacious barn where they plan to host many fundraisers, of which this garden party was the first.
“We have been involved with the CCLC for about, probably seven years now and feel like it’s a very important organization and we need to keep in mind the young people in the county and have this continue to be available to them,” said the couple.
At the end of the evening, stuffed to the gills with good food and conversation, a feeling of contentment reigned, as the frivolity on the prairie was a benefit to the children of Rappahannock.