Paula Baker can’t remember a time when she wasn’t cooking with and for people she loves and cares about. Her earliest memories involve standing on a stool in her family’s kitchen, stirring batter, helping her dad make apple pies, or watching things bubble on the stove. These formative moments inevitably led her to earning a degree from The Culinary Institute of America and subsequent stints as sous-chef and executive chef at restaurants in Telluride, Philadelphia, and Boston. Paula and her husband moved to coastal Delaware in 2004 and she began work with the late restauranteur and philanthropist Matt Haley at SoDel Concepts.
Paula’s path led to CBH when SoDel Concepts was asked to help revamp the menus of its summer camp program so that it would eliminate prepared foods and include more fresh produce. When Paula crossed the threshold of 1800 Bay Avenue for the first time, she was hooked. “I love cooking with and for kids,” she explains. “They’re so enthusiastic and fun. And I love introducing them to new foods – especially fresh fruits and vegetables.” Her temporary consulting gig at CBH quickly morphed into a permanent position.
While Paula relies on the rigorous training she received at CIA and her years of professional experience to prepare healthy and delicious food for the children enrolled in the Margaret H. Rollins Child Development Center and who are part of the Youth Development Program, she also often returns to her formative years, when she first developed her love for cooking. Her grandmother’s recipes for sugar cookies and Jewish apple cake are bestowing their special kind of love on a new generation of young fans at CBH. And Paula is paying forward the gift her own family gave her, giving Rollins Center and YDP children the opportunity to stand by her side and develop a love for cooking and healthy foods. She has done this through Charlie Brown, Polar Express, and Harry Potter themed meals, annual gingerbread workshops, and foods that celebrate just about every holiday on the calendar. She has invited young people into the kitchen to roast pumpkin seeds, engage in “Cupcake Wars,” learn new skills, discover new foods, and consider possible future careers. She continues to do what she has always done — and what she was taught as a young girl – to cook with and for people she loves and cares about.
AmeriCorps Member – Youth Development Program
CBH was thrilled to welcome Ella Breitenfeldt as the first member of our newly established AmeriCorps service team. Ella hails from Wausau, Wisconsin where they grew up on a rabbit farm surrounded by an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. The trajectory of Ella’s life was influenced by that close family and an early and ongoing involvement with their local 4-H club. The group’s underlying belief “in the power of young people” and how the organization sees “that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us” have become part of Ella’s world view.
Ella loves how 4-H gives young people the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make their way in the world, how it teaches them to be resourceful and to be respectful of the natural world. Ella built on that early formation with a degree in Family and Consumer Science. Previously known as Home Economics, Family and Consumer Science encompasses a number of topics and disciplines — child development, family education, nutrition, budgeting, funeral planning — anything to do with the household, and essential skills for healthy and productive lives. Ella’s goal is to eventually return to 4-H as an educator. In the meantime, Ella is looking for ways to learn as much as possible about the world, to travel and interact with as many people and places as possible, and to gain skills and knowledge through a wide range of experiences. Ella says that they are guided through life by two ongoing and recurring questions: “How can I fill needs that I find in the world? And how can I serve youth?” CBH is honored that Ella has brought those questions — and the answers they produce – to the children here in Delaware.
Assistant Teacher, Child Development Center
Tamara Carr is the Margaret H. Rollins Center’s newest team member. A sophomore at the University of Delaware studying elementary education, Tamara works part-time in both Rollins Center classrooms. Having grown up in Milton, surrounded by a large extended family with many younger cousins, Tamara felt drawn to teaching from an early age. She has student taught in high school and middle school classrooms but feels most suited to work with elementary and pre-school children. She enjoys how younger children are so unguarded about expressing their thoughts and showing off their natural personalities.
Teacher, Child Development Center
If you spend more than a few minutes with Kenna Chanoux, you’ll learn that she is all about hearing and learning from people’s stories. When her now-adult sons were young boys, Kenna volunteered at their cooperative pre-school and, in addition to enjoying spending time with her own sons in that setting, she found great joy in watching the stories of their classmates’ young lives unfold. She also started a new chapter in her own life.
Inspired by her experience as a volunteer teacher, Kenna returned to school and earned an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Delaware Technical Community College and credentials in Infants and Toddlers, Preschool and Assessment & Curriculum through the Delaware Institute of Early Childhood Education. Kenna is also licensed as an Early Childhood Administrator through the Department of Education and the Office of Childcare Licensing. Kenna’s certifications include Training in Early Care and Education (TECE) 1 & 2, and The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ (Infants & Toddlers). Prior to joining CBH in 2017, Kenna worked with two-year-olds and three-year-olds and taken on administrative roles in preschool settings.
At CBH, Kenna has continued to listen to children’s stories. “Each child has a different way to learn. I love to watch and figure out how each child learns best and adjust my approach to meet those needs.” The small size and personalized approach of the Margaret H. Rollins Center provide the flexibility that matches Kenna’s approach perfectly.
When Kenna isn’t listening to the stories of the children at the Rollins Center and helping them write the next chapters, she connects with stories in other ways. She loves music with lyrics that tell compelling stories and road trips to places that tell the diverse stories of U.S. history. Most especially she enjoys watching the stories of her two grandchildren’s lives unfold and connect with hers.
Consulting School Psychologist
Bobbie likes piecing things together. She started her professional career as a classroom teacher –which she loved, but she also felt there was something else she could be doing for her students. So, when a master’s degree program offered her the possibility to “meet the social and emotional needs of children,” she felt she had found the missing piece and she earned her master’s degree.
And then her doctorate.
Bobbie put her multiple degrees and many skills to work over the course of a nearly 25-year career working as a school psychologist in the Cape Henlopen School District. She enjoyed the work of figuring out what each child needed and piecing together the right array of services to meet those needs.
Bobbie first came to CBH in 2009 to help us piece things together for our kids. She is primarily responsible for developing assessments tools for CBH programs that help us understand how effectively we are meeting the needs of the children we serve and identifying opportunities to adjust those programs when new needs arise. She has developed assessment tools so our Youth Development Program (YDP) can monitor the social skills, sense of belonging, and self-awareness of the program participants, and she helps develop activities that help kids develop and strengthen those qualities.
Bobbie also interprets the Independent Education Plans (IEPs) of each of our kids for our Family Engagement Coordinators — and helps them piece together activities and techniques that support the work being done by their teachers at school. She works closely with CBH Family Engagement Coordinators to make sure each child is getting what they need — and she makes recommendations for referrals to other organizations so they can receive necessary services we are not able to provide. Bobbie also evaluates the progress being made by kids during their time at CBH summer camp — and she works with the CBH Camp Director to develop programs and activities to help them move forward. For example, survey data collected from staff, children, and families indicated that leadership skills among a group of the girls we were working with were poor — so Bobbie worked with YDP staff to add leadership-building activities to YDP’s weekend program and leadership-enhancing lessons plans to the summer camp program.
When Bobbie isn’t piecing things together here at CBH, she is busy being a mother to two college-age daughters, doing as all parents do, helping them piece together their lives as they unfold ahead of them. And, it would be no surprise to also learn that Bobbie is a quilter, piecing together bits of fabric to make keepsakes and heirlooms for loved ones.
Teacher’s Aid, Child Development Center
Rory joined the team of the Margaret H. Rollins Child Development Center at CBH shortly after earning his diploma in Early Childhood Studies from Delaware Technical and Community College. He also received Delaware certification as an Early Childhood Intern in 2017 and Early Childhood Assistant Teacher in 2018.
Rory enjoys learning about different cultures and developing short lessons for the four-year-olds, through which he shares information about how different cultures celebrate various holidays. When not working at CBH, Rory enjoys bocce, in which he won a gold medal at the State of Delaware Special Olympics. He was chosen to represent the state at the national games in Florida in the spring of 2022.
Family Engagement Coordinator
It makes perfect sense that Armina Domingue has found her way to Children’s Beach House. A Licensed Master’s Social Worker with over two decades of clinical experience, Armina has the training and experience necessary to effectively and thoughtfully engage and support the children and families we serve. And with experience serving as a field instructor for master’s and undergraduate level social work interns, she brings a wealth of information and expertise to her collaborations with families, educators, and fellow social workers.
And then there’s the whole ocean thing. Armina loves the ocean. Ocean images and ocean metaphors regularly pepper her conversations. When describing her attraction to a life of service, she recalls a folk tale she has heard in various forms. In the story, the main character is walking along a beach and happens upon a large crowd of people busily scooping up thousands of starfish that had washed ashore. The main character doesn’t know how the creatures had come to be stranded and doesn’t bother to ask. Nor does she dismiss the problem as someone else’s to solve or too large to manage. Instead, she simply helps. She scoops up handful after handful of the star-shaped creatures and gently tosses them into the safety of the ocean. “That’s how I view life,” Armina explains. “I want to do my part to make things better and safer one person at a time.”
When describing her own temperament, Armina once again relies on an ocean image. Looking out her office window at the flat surface of Delaware Bay, she says, “I’m a pretty calm person. I don’t like to make waves.” That’s not to say Armina doesn’t make an impression. Much like the bay outside her window, Armina’s calm waters run deep. She’s thoughtful, intentional, and insightful in her interactions with families and colleagues alike. She’s astute at understanding complex problems, and eager to lend a hand in solving them – one starfish or one family at a time.
Youth Development Program Director
Jackie Donaldson sincerely believes “everyone should have the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilled life.” And, for as long as she can remember, she has wanted to help people realize that goal. This ambition developed naturally as Jackie benefitted from the caring interest of others when she was a child herself. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Jackie had access to a range of mentoring programs as a child. She participated in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and attended summer enrichment camps. It was somewhat inevitable, then, that Jackie would pursue a degree in psychology at City University of New York, York College.
Jackie put that degree to work at The New York Foundling, a pillar in the network of social services in New York City since 1869. The New York Foundling’s philosophy mirrors that of Children’s Beach House. It trusts “in the power and potential of people,” and “deliberately invests in proven practices.” At The New York Foundling, Jackie worked as a case worker and family interventionist, providing therapy and support to families to reduce risks in home. She was selected by the organization’s executive director to work with the Pinkerton Foundation and State of NY to help create a youth work readiness program.
Jackie worked at the New York Foundling for more than four years before relocating to Delaware. Upon arriving in her new home, Jackie threw herself into the work of helping young people at the State of Delaware’s Division of Prevention & Behavioral Health Services where she worked as a Program Administrator.
As Director of CBH’s Youth Development Program (YDP), Jackie is putting her training, experience, and desire to help people live happy and fulfilled lives to work. Her primary responsibility is to oversee the Youth Development Program and the cadre of Family Engagement Coordinators across the state of Delaware. She is responsible for making sure the program adheres to the Positive Youth Development model, which helps young people identify and cultivate their innate skills and talents.
When not at work, Jackie and her husband are busy helping their own two children identify and cultivate their own innate gifts. She especially likes to do that by spending time with her family out in nature or as they prepare and enjoy meals together at home.
Teacher, Child Development Center
Stephanie began working at the Child Development Center in 2016 and became the Lead Teacher in the four-year-old classroom in September of 2021. Stephanie is licensed as an early childhood teacher through the Delaware Department of Education and the Office of Childcare Licensing. She also has credentials in preschool, inclusion practices, and effective lesson planning through the Delaware Institute of Early Childhood Education.
Stephanie shares her love of art and music with her students and emphasizes the importance of play as an essential part of learning. She incorporates Spanish lessons into the curriculum to promote their overall vocabulary and literacy development. Her goal is to provide a welcoming environment that encourages a love for learning that extends into kindergarten and beyond.
Jonathan Freeman-Coppadge joined CBH as Camp Coordinator in June 2022. Perhaps “joined” is not the right word. He re-joined CBH. Jonathan has been connected to Children’s Beach House since 2004, when he was a summer camp counselor during college. Over the years, as he completed his undergraduate degree, finished a master’s, and embarked on his career, Jonathan has stayed in touch with CBH and introduced several friends to our work. He also developed skills and a work history that prepared him to return to Lewes and begin this new chapter of his career.
Most of Jonathan’s professional life has been spent in the classroom — first at Indian Creek School, then at Groton School and, most recently, at Severn School – where he has taught English, French, drama, and philosophy. He loves working with kids, hearing what interests and perplexes them, and finding ways to connect with them and broaden their worlds. He also loves helping other front-line youth workers and teachers do the same. While teaching English at Groton School and directing the school’s community engagement program, Jonathan also served as a dormitory parent. In that capacity, he enjoyed working with the senior prefects, helping them develop their leadership skills. Similarly, Jonathan volunteered for 15 years with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar for high school sophomores, a program that proved to be a powerful turning point in his own life. As Camp Coordinator, he is looking forward to playing a similar role and empowering the camp counselors he will supervise.
When reflecting upon his change of path from the classroom to the Beach House, Jonathan says that being a supporter and facilitator of front-line work has a multiplying effect that excites him. “I loved being in the classroom, but I could only have an impact on a certain number of kids. Stepping back gives me an opportunity to have a wider impact by empowering others who work with kids.”
Director of Resource Development
Director of Catering Operations, Greater Good Events
When you look at the arc of Meg Gardner’s life you quickly see that she loves looking at the occasions, places, beliefs, and systems that bring people together – and creating opportunities to do that herself. Growing up in Delaware in a multi-generational household, “food was a huge thing. We made and sat down for dinner together every night. We canned food and I heard stories about my family told through the foods they prepared.”
When she went off to college, like most students living in a dorm and eating in a dining hall, Meg became somewhat disconnected from the preparation of the food she was eating, but she remained focused on other things that drew people together. She studied the languages, literature, belief systems, art, and NGOs that help to create cultures and civil societies.
During college she was also introduced to the ancient Greek concept of xenial relationships, which call for expressions of mutual hospitality between hosts and guests — and especially between persons with different customs. She loved that there was one word that encompassed the mutuality of the host-guest connection and didn’t present them as separate or opposing entities.
Meg was able to put this new understanding to use, first as a host when she moved back to Delaware after college and took a job at The Blue Moon restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, and then as a guest when she travelled with her now-husband, Lion, for an eight-month stay in Prague. Traveling throughout Europe, and later to other domestic and foreign destinations, Meg and Lion learned to seek out locals to find out where to go, what to eat, and to hear the stories of their home regions and their lives there.
Returning to Rehoboth Beach, Meg and Lion quickly immersed themselves in the area’s local life and local food culture; Meg returned to the Blue Moon, where she served as General Manager and Catering Director. In 2008, she broadened her role when she and Lion became co-owners of the restaurant. Under her leadership, The Blue Moon was awarded the Cornerstone Award in 2011 by the Delaware Restaurant Association for excellence. As General Manager and Catering Director, Meg restored the quality front-of-house service upon which the restaurant earned its reputation. She revamped the look of the dining room, streamlined the staff, and developed the catering end of the restaurant’s business, increasing profits ten-fold over a ten-year period.
Meg joined Children’s Beach House in 2020 to establish Greater Good Events, a social enterprise designed to offer high-end catering to the Delaware beach community, the proceeds of which support CBH’s work with children and families. Here Meg has made the creation of xenial relationships the centerpiece of Greater Good Events’ work. By engaging the clients/hosts of each event in a process that makes mutual hospitality the goal they are trying to achieve and the means by which they achieve it, Meg makes it possible for people to come together to celebrate important life events and to improve the lives of others.
RICHARD T. GARRETT
RICHARD T. GARRETT
Rich Garrett knows first-hand the power of human connections. With six brothers and sisters, he could hardly escape human connections. As a young child with speech delays, he relied on them. His siblings often stepped in to clarify his thoughts to others; and as an elementary school student, he relied on the guidance and support of speech therapists to successfully overcome those challenges. Rich happily reports that he hasn’t stopped talking since!
Rich’s interest in human connections led to a bachelor’s degree in psychology and certifications in mediation, mediation training, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Rich’s work life prior to joining CBH continued this journey and honed his skills. He served as Dean of Students at Williams Trade School in Media, PA, — a Quaker school founded to help “deserving young men” learn and develop practical skills — and as Executive Director of a community dispute settlement program and a nonprofit that offered school-based services to children. From the vantage point of all these positions, Rich saw how young people thrive when they are part of a supportive community and when the people around them, rather than seeing problems to be “fixed,” focus on, celebrate, and help them develop their natural gifts and talents.
Rich took advantage of the opportunity to bring this way of engaging and supporting young people to a new community when he became CBH’s third Executive Director in 2003. Since then, he has worked to make the Positive Youth Development Theory the centerpiece of CBH’s work. He has loved seeing the programs change and seeing their dramatic impact on kids’ lives, thanks to the long-term relationships they forge with one another and with CBH programs and staff.
Director of Strategic Planning & External Relations
Barry loves words. He loves lining them up to form sentences that describe issues that concern him, and he loves describing the work of organizations that are working to address those problems. And, while he takes great joy in writing about the gifts, talents and stories of his colleagues who make all that good work happen, he is less thrilled about writing about himself.
Barry is a relative newcomer to the staff of CBH, joining the staff in the spring of 2021, but he has been part of the Beach House family for many years. He served as fund raising consultant from 2012 through 2016, then as member of the Board of Trustees from 2018 through 2021.
Barry has spent his entire professional career working in various capacities with and for nonprofit organizations, serving as executive director, development director, board member, consultant, and volunteer. As Executive Director of Green Spaces for DC, Barry developed public-private partnerships to create and improve publicly owned green spaces throughout Washington, DC. As Director of Development for Historic Sites for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, he oversaw the fundraising activities of the Trust’s 29 historic sites.
Barry worked for many years in the fight against HIV/AIDS. On the national level, his fundraising work for AIDS Action Council/AIDS Action Foundation helped to support advocacy efforts that led to the passage of the Ryan White CARE Act and the HIV/AIDS provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As Executive Director of Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, he oversaw the delivery of a range of supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Barry has an undergraduate degree in philosophy, a master’s degree in public policy, and a certificate in landscape design.
He has served on several nonprofit boards, including Bridge Builders, Housing Opportunities for Women, One in Ten, Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Friends of Guest House, Churches Conference on Shelter & Housing, Roland Park Roads and Maintenance Corporation, and Among Friends.
He chaired the Town of Milton (DE) Planning and Zoning Commission, leading the historic town through the development of its most recent Comprehensive Plan. A member of the Rehoboth Beach Writer’s Guild, Barry has dabbled in non-fundraising writing and, after many rejections, has had two of his poems published.
CBH prides itself on giving our kids what all kids need: safety, a sense of belonging, and the room to just be kids. Task #1, therefore, is to make sure our beach house — our facility on Delaware Bay, where kids come to be together and to learn — is safe, warm, and welcoming. Eric Krause is the man who makes that happen. Eric is a maker and a fixer to his core. Even as a child, he liked taking things apart and rebuilding them. He likes understanding how things work, how systems hang together. That led him first to study business, to understand those kinds of systems, and then on to technical college, to understand entirely different kinds of systems. After technical college, Eric spent seven years working for a mechanical contractor, building HVAC systems in large commercial buildings. This particular skill is hugely valued here at CBH, where the building has a high tech, environmentally-friendly HVAC system to keep campers, pre-school students, staff, and volunteers safe and comfortable. It’s not the only skill that Eric brings that we value, though. With 25,000 square feet of classrooms, dormitories, bathrooms, showers, common areas, and offices, and with three acres of land that includes a pool, playground, waterfront, gardens, and ropes course, Eric’s other skills with plumbing, carpentry, and electrical repair are put to good and frequent use. Thanks to Eric, Children’s Beach House is a safe, comfortable, and welcoming place for everyone who walks through its doors.
Justin Nixon can do just about anything. He was introduced to CBH when he participated in and won First Prize with one of his photographs in CBH’s Plein Air Coastal Delaware art competition in 2012. Two years later, he moved to Lewes from Baltimore and was hired to be CBH’s Office Manager, which made use of his formidable technology skills.
Since then, Justin’s role has expanded, and he is now CBH’s Marketing Manager. An integral part of CBH advancement and communications team, Justin’s skills as a photographer and videographer can be seen here on the CBH website, on our Facebook and other social media posts, on CBH’s printed and electronic newsletters, and on just about any other piece of printed material that leaves Bay Avenue. Justin’s skill as a graphic designer can be seen in much of CBH’s marketing materials, CBH advertisements in local newspapers, and – most dazzlingly – in the invitations and decorations for CBH’s many special events – for which he is also responsible for much of the planning and organizing.
Beyond his work as a photographer and designer, Justin enjoys anything active and outdoors — exploring the national parks, snowboarding, hiking, kayaking, and surfing. He also enjoys working in his garden, cooking what he grows, building furniture, landscape design, and painting.
For as long as he can remember, Anthony Orman has been working to make systems and businesses work for people. Following a 22-year career as head of operations for a mortgage insurance company, Anthony became Vice President of Counseling and Education for Consumer Credit Counseling of Delaware Valley, where, during the nation’s mortgage crisis, he helped people avoid foreclosure or make their way through the difficult process.
Anthony brought his organizing and customer service skills to Children’s Beach House’s Wilmington office in August 2017, where he worked until moving to the Lewes office in December 2018. As Chief Operating Officer, Anthony is the key point of contact for all CBH constituencies, including trustees, volunteers, staff members, donors, vendors and CBH program participants. He is the man they all turn to for answers to their many questions. When Anthony is not busy answering a dizzying array of questions, solving problems, fixing systems, and making things run on time, he takes care of himself by spending time outdoors, bowling, spinning, and – true to his tendency to take care of people – cooking for friends.
Dom Pandolfino likes to get his hands into things. He likes to roll up his sleeves, figure out how to make something work, and then make it happen – which makes his career as a chef make perfect sense. Having an Italian grandmother who loved to cook for and feed the people she loved and spending his summers working at restaurants also helped set him on that path.
That path led him to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, where he earned an A.S. in Culinary Arts and a B.S. in Food Marketing — then on to Connecticut to help grow his brother’s catering business. Dom spent ten years reaching his hands into that project, learning how to run a successful catering business, how to develop client-specific menus, execute large events, and manage the many issues involved with on- and off-site events. In 2013 Dom moved back to the Delaware shore, where he had spent many years at his family’s summer cottage as a child, and continued to hone his craft at some of the beach area’s best restaurants. In 2018, he joined long-time friends, Lion and Meg Gardner, at their restaurant, The Blue Moon. There Dom was able to help grow an already busy catering business and further solidify its great catering team.
Dom loves this kind of work. He loves figuring out all the logistics and puzzle pieces of each event. “No shift is ever the same, no party is ever the same, so you have to figure out all the pieces and make them work. You have to figure out how to give the clients what they want, when they want it, and where they want it. You have to figure out the menu, the preparation, the timing.”
When Meg Gardner started Greater Good Events at the Children’s Beach House in 2020, Dom was very eager to join her so he could continue doing what he loves and do it to benefit a great cause. He has also found something exciting here that he hadn’t anticipated. “At most catering operations, the chef doesn’t have the opportunity to sit down with the clients to discuss the details of the event and the menu. Brides and grooms don’t usually sit down and talk to the person who is going to cook their food. Chefs don’t usually have an opportunity to talk to the people who are going to eat what they cook. I love being able to talk to the clients so we can work together to figure out the best way to give them what they really want.”
Vice President of Finance and Advancement
Pat Tosi’s career has been spent using her talent with numbers to improve the lives of others – in all sorts of ways. Prior to joining Children’s Beach House in 2016, Pat served as CEO of Hope’s Door, an emergency shelter and counseling agency which offered safety and opportunities for new lives to victims of domestic violence in Dallas, Texas. As Acting CEO and President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer of the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, she led the organization to becoming the world’s largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research. public education and community advocacy. And, as Owner/Founder, General Manager and Chief Financial Officer of The Vineyard Group, a home goods manufacturing and import company, Pat brought her keen sense of style into the homes of her customers while also giving back to her community through the proceeds of the company’s product sales.
Pat continues to use her mathematical mind to improve lives here at Children’s Beach House. As Vice President of Finance and Advancement, she spends her time between raising funds to support CBH’s work and properly accounting for and managing them. For her colleagues and the volunteers who work with her, Pat’s talents are most evident in the exuberant style, joy, and financial success of our fundraising events, and in the rigor, detail, and professionalism of the budgets and financial reports she prepares.
Pat’s fascination with numbers led to a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Analytics and certifications in Organizational Leadership and Non-Profit Management from SMU.
She has served on several nonprofit boards, including DE Fund for Women, Texas Council on Family Violence, Metro Dallas Homeless Coalition, Bridge Breast Network, and Ursuline Academy Dallas, TX. Most recently, she was appointed by Governor John Carney to serve as a member of the Delaware Health Facilities Authority.
Pat takes great pride in knowing that together with a team of extraordinary staff, devoted volunteers and supportive community members, Children’s Beach House is making an important difference in the lives of some very special kids and their families.
Assistant Teacher, Child Development Center
Barbi is literally the first person you want to see in an emergency. The daughter of a police office, she is also the third generation of her family to serve as a volunteer member of the Manquadale Fire Company in New Castle, DE. She graduated from the Delaware State Fire School, having completed her training as a fire fighter and emergency medical technician, and was one of the first women to be certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians – a certification she has continued to maintain over the years.
Barbi’s commitment to service has formed the basis of her professional life.
She built on her EMT training and began her career working with children at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, where she served as a patient care technician for 11 years. There she worked primarily on the respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders floor, helping newborns to 5-year-olds with cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and other chronic issues. When working on the post-op floor she served the needs of children with spina bifida and other genetic disorders following corrective surgeries.
In order to adjust her work schedule to match the schedules of her own school-age children and put her health and science training to further good work, Barbi took a position at Caravel Academy in Bear, DE, where she worked for 12 years. There she taught 5th grade health, 6th grade science, prepped labs for science classes, and served as a substitute teacher for the entire k-12 school.
Barbi joined CBH in August 2021 as one of the Assistant Teachers in the 3- & 4-year-old preschool classrooms when she and her family relocated to Lewes in the midst of the COVID pandemic. While the needs here are (thankfully!) less critical than at A. I. du Pont Hospital, and our emergencies are (mercifully) fewer and much less scary than at Manquadale Fire Company, Barbi is equally needed here. Her dedication to service and her love of children are the perfect fit for CBH.
NICOLE VAN MATRE
Family Engagement Coordinator
NICOLE VAN MATRE
Nicole Van Matre loves kids. She has spent her entire professional career tending to their safety and well-being. Prior to joining Children’s Beach House in July 2022, Nicole spent several years living and working in Florida in various child-serving capacities. As a case manager with Life Share, she provided intensive support to children in the state’s foster care program. As mentor manager for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, she matched volunteer “bigs” to serve as mentors to lucky “littles.” And as an investigator at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office of Child Protective Services, she investigated and intervened in reports of abuse and neglect.
The children Nicole loves most, of course, are her twins Mikey and Timmy. To make sure they could grow up surrounded by as much love and support as possible, Nicole and her husband moved to Delaware, where they would be close to her parents. Nicole continued her career of service to children at Children & Families First, an organization that helps children and families navigate and recover from adverse childhood experiences.
Nicole first came to CBH when she enrolled her twins in the Margaret H. Rollins Child Development Center. While looking for a pre-school for her boys, Nicole wanted a place that had a structured curriculum – which is exactly what she found in the Rollins Center. Her boys quickly settled in with their new teachers and friends, discovering that Children’s Beach House was a perfect fit for them. When Nicole learned that CBH was expanding its Youth Development Program and was in need of family engagement coordinators, she suspected that she might be a good fit here too.
And she was right. Much like her twins, Nicole has quickly become an integral part of CBH. She has connected with families and kids currently enrolled in the Youth Development Program and is reaching out to prospective participants. She’s been busy planning events to bring the children and their families together and she’s looking forward to connecting with and working with them in the future, seeing them at monthly meetings, attending their sporting events and performances, collaborating with their teachers and learning specialists — and attending and celebrating their graduations. “Most of my professional life has had me involved in kids’ lives for short periods of time – usually for just a few months — and usually when they were in crisis. I’m looking forward to watching the CBH kids grow, learn, and develop over time — and see them launch successfully into the world.”
Assistant Teacher, Child Development Center
Teresa has an undergraduate degree in psychology and is certified by the State of Delaware as an Early Childhood Education Teacher. She brought that training to the Margaret H. Rollins Child Development Center in 2016. Prior to joining CBH, she worked one-on-one with special needs students in the Anne Arundel County Public School System in Maryland for several years. Much like several of her Rollins Center colleagues, she loves watching the kids grow and develop new skills. And, she makes it unanimous: “There’s never a dull day!”
Assistant Teacher, Child Development Center
While Erika’s education — a B.A. in Dance with a Minor in Women’s Studies – doesn’t make a career in early childhood education seem like an obvious choice, the story of her life makes it seem like it was inevitable.
Erika grew up dancing. Her life as a dance student eventually led to jobs in dance studios and teaching dance and art at summer camps in and near her hometown of Silver Spring, MD. These inevitably led Erika to positions in a variety of school settings after graduation. Her first job, as a one-on-one aide and PE and creative movement teacher, was at a school for children with special needs. She then moved to a Montessori school, where she once again taught PE and creative movement. From there, Erika moved to a play-based preschool in Washington, DC where she worked in a multi-age classroom. Throughout her career working in preschool classrooms, Erika has never stopped dancing. In addition to incorporating dance and creative movement into her preschool classroom, she has continued to teach dance and has helped to instill a love for the art in subsequent generations. Credentialed to be an assistant teacher, Erika started work at CBH in September 2021.