The Belmont Child Care Association has set an industry standard and occupies a unique place in the racing world: located on the backstretch of Belmont Park, the BCCA offers very low cost child care to the children of the backstretch workers, opening at 5 am 365 days a year. It is the only such child care facility located on a race track in the United States, and Anna House, the day care center/pre-school center, serves children from birth until they go to kindergarten.
Lindsey Dubb is the daughter of Thoroughbred owner and local developer Michael Dubb, who was instrumental in the building of Anna House and who is the chair of the BCCA; Lindsey began volunteering as soon as Anna House opened, participating in the annual BCCA holiday party, during which the children choose presents to give to their family members at Christmas. As she puts it, “These events were my first interactions with the children of the grooms and inspired me to help them out in any way I can.”
Lindsey took a course at her high school (Jericho, in Nassau County, NY) on tutoring for community service and thought it would be a good idea to tutor some of the backstretch children. She enlisted four other students and the tutoring program began in February 2008.
The students who take advantage of tutoring range in age from kindergarteners to seventh grade, and the program takes place from 4:30 – 6:00 every Thursday. Explicit goals of the program are to help the children understand and think through their lessons, as well to help these students who come from predominantly Spanish-speaking households improve their English.
“We help the children with an array of subjects,” says Lindsey. “We generally start a session off by helping them out with whatever homework they have for that night or the week and making sure they have a good understanding of the topics they are currently learning in school so that they don’t fall behind. [If] there is enough time left, we like to end the session by helping a child read a short story or by playing spelling games.”
Anna House and the Belmont Child Care Association have been embraced by the racing industry; Gretchen and Roy Jackson, Eugene Melnyk (for whose daughter Anna House is named), Jess Jackson, and the late owner of Lemon Drop Kid, Jeanne Vance, have all generously donated, as has Thoroughbred Charities of America, which supports the BCCA. Fay Donk, wife of trainer David, is president of the board. The honorary board includes Bill and Tina Mott, Jerry and Suzee Bailey, and Angel Cordero.
While the bonds between Anna House and the racing community are well established, it’s the inspiration and energy of a teenager who is strengthening the connection between this essential service to the race track and the broader Long Island community. With the help of her classmates, Lindsey Dubb is carrying on her father’s philanthropic inclinations, devoting her time and talent to serving the children of those whose often-thankless work makes possible the glorious racing moments that the rest of us enjoy.