The last few weeks have been pretty good ones for Anna House, with a steady stream of visitors stopping by to visit the children and to see in action the good work of the Belmont Child Care Association.
A few weeks ago, Kiaran McLaughlin stopped by to have lunch with the children. McLaughlin and Edgar Prado are the honorees of this year’s BCCA benefit in Saratoga, and McLaughlin’s effect on the center goes beyond his and his family’s visits and volunteer hours. In April, William Warren, Jr. and his wife Suzanne, owners of Charitable Man, donated $10,000 in honor of McLaughlin, who trains the horse for them. When Donna Chenkin, executive director of the BCCA, called Warren to thank him, she invited him to visit Anna House when he was here for the Belmont. Last Wednesday, Donna received a call saying that the Warren family would be at Anna House on Friday.
At 9:45 on Friday morning, a bus pulled up in front of Anna House. Warren, Suzanne, and, according to Stuart Chenkin, “about 18 of their children and daughters- and sons in-law” got out. They toured the child care center, declaring themselves very impressed with the program and the physical plant itself.
The Warrens were not alone in visiting Anna House last Friday; Jessica Steinbrenner of Kinsman Farm and two of her children visited on Friday, too. They were brought to Anna House by one of their trainers, Carl Domino, whose Jana Domino Foundation provided the funds for the infant room named for the Dominos’ daughter, who died at age 13 in 1998. The Yankee Foundation currently donates $1,000 a year to the Belmont Child Care Association.
Domino, in whose barn, just across from Anna House, Mine That Bird lodged during his New York stay, also introduced Chip Woolley to Anna House, about which I wrote last Saturday. After a Friday visit, Woolley came back to Anna House on Saturday, after Mine That Bird had been safely ensconced in the monitoring barn. “Visiting Anna House was the most fun I had since coming East, except for winning the Derby,” said Woolley, according to Stuart Chenkin. He must have meant it, as he came by for a third time on Sunday, spending time with the children before heading back to Kentucky.
On Tuesday morning, 13 students graduated from Anna House, ready to head off to school in September; 12 of those students have been at Anna House since they were infants. Thanks to the faculty, staff, and donors of Anna House, they’ve been well prepared for their next educational venture, and their parents have been able to work on the backstretch each day, knowing that their children are safe and well taken care of. Anna House is open 365 days a year, opening at 5 a.m. and offering programs for students through the afternoon.
The summer benefit is still seeking live and silent auction items to help support its work throughout the year. Wine; jewelry; racing memorabilia; tickets for shows and sporting events; gift certificates for retail stores or restaurants; electronics, or experiences, like a walk-on part in a movie or a meal with a celebrity, have been popular items in the past, so if you or someone you know has something to donate, please let me know or contact the BCCA directly. You can also donate American Express rewards points, which help the BCCA purchase items for the auction.