It is with a heavy heart, yet with a great deal of pride and humility, that I inform you that The Cherry Tree Club closed its doors on September 2, 2016.
The CTC started in 1995, and served children in Mercer County for 21 program years. When it first started, no one wanted to respond to HomeFront's request for help in serving preschool age children who could not access or afford early childhood education except for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. In the ensuing years, the CTC built itself as a respected, admired and loved program which served homeless and at-risk children in Mercer County. Together, staff, volunteers and citizens helped build the CTC into a quality program which loved and nurtured children over the years.
The good news is that the government has now stepped up its role in the provision of early childhood education for New Jersey's poorest children. For about 18 years, Trenton has been developing and implementing early childhood education programs. Currently, Trenton is mandated to provide free preschool education for all 3 and 4 year old children.
The fact that all Trenton children are required to receive free preschool education, along with the fact that it became increasingly difficult to obtain funding due to extreme changes in the availability of both public and private funding sources, prompted CTC sponsors to consider the program's future. After painstaking and careful consideration, the CTC Advisory Board decided that the CTC has served a significant purpose over the course of the past 21 years. However, given the difficulty in getting sustainable funding as a non-profit agency, it was now time to hand over the job of providing free quality preschool education to the public sector.
The decision to close the CTC obviously was not a reflection of the quality of the program. Many have praised it as one of the best preschools in the county, if not the State. It joyfully served close to 900 children during the course of its lifespan. But now, we live by the words of the great children's author Dr. Seuss who said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Indeed, we have so much to smile about when we reflect back on the lives of the beautiful children that we served with love, compassion and dedication for over 21 years.
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