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Growing Need

Written by Susan Reid on . Posted in Q&A, Way of (Vermont) Life

The center employs a hands-on approach in teaching life skills, and found success building a garden shared by mothers and their children.

The center employs a hands-on approach in teaching life skills, and found success building a garden shared by mothers and their children. Photo by Daria Bishop.

The high quality of life apparent in Vermont’s thriving ski towns and college hubs can sometimes mask problems that exist in other parts of the state. Springfield, a community of 9,000, is currently coping with the decline of manufacturing jobs. The Springfield Area Parent Child Center provides local residents with everything from child care and playgroups to free evening parenting classes and professional help with learning delays and behavior problems. Administrative manager Jan Zona talks about the center’s efforts to provide real-world solutions for struggling Vermonters.

VL: What first brought you to Vermont?
JZ: I moved to Springfield from Fairfield County, Connecticut, 13 years ago with my husband, Gary. We were looking to live and work in a less congested area and enjoy life in a more rural setting. When I was a child, my dad helped build a camp for a friend in East Wallingford, and we spent many weekends there. The first time I ever skied was at Okemo Mountain. Little did I know that years later I would work there!

VL: You were guest services manager there for 10 years before joining the Parent Child Center. That’s an unusual transition.
JZ: It might seem like a leap to go from a resort to a nonprofit, but in reality, I have just moved from one service industry to another. Now, rather than help visitors enjoy their time here, I can help the youngest citizens in our community and 
their families.

VL: What has been the biggest change at the center since it began?
JZ: Our growth. We started in a small house on Myrtle Street in 1992 with a core group of six to eight employees. Now we have a staff of

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