ant to know a little about the Mike and Debi story? Get a cup of coffee and a donut, sit down for a few moments and read our story! Here goes…
In 1975 Debi was working in a church-operated child care center teaching the kindergarten class. As you would expect in those days, the entire staff were females. One day, a young man just out of college was hired to work at the center. The ladies were so excited! A man was working at their center!! The place was abuzz! Well, Debi wasn’t overly impressed at the time. However one day, that was all about to change. Debi was walking up the tri-level stairs with a landing and extreme left turn to the basement classrooms while Michael was coming down the stairs with the extreme right turn. They bumped into each other coming around the wall and Michael hit Debi’s knee. A poem was received in Debi’s work mailbox the next day. It went something along the line of …oh woe is my, oh woe is me. I came down the stairs and hit Debi’s knee…” I may have a copy of it still to this day…but those are the only words I remember off the top of my head. Well, Debi thought that if he could be that creative in an apology, there might be something there!! Debi had a 1968 Camaro Z-28 muscle car so Mike decided to ask her out on a first date to a car show. Mike nailed it and the rest as they say, is history!
We worked well together at Small World over the next year or so and decided to start A Child’s Touch in Lamplighter Mobile Home Park together with a license capacity for 45 children August 1, 1977. The leased building has LOTS of work to be done. It was quite the summer! Government applications, setting up our licensing, renovating the interior of the building, purchasing equipment and setting everything up. We laid on the new orange shag carpet the night before we opened wondering how we pulled it all off just in time for the start of school!
Children were accepted from 2½ through 12 years of age and our working together life with our own business had begun. Debi did all the books, payroll, while Mike taught the kindergarten class and did all the maintenance. Life of business owners! We learned a lot!
Mike decided to propose at Christmas time when we were visiting his Mom, Dad and family in California. We had a lovely afternoon drive. Then he parked the car and we started hiking. On the bluffs above the ocean Mike got down on one knee and proposed…how romantic! Sadly cell phones and selfies were not invented yet so no pictures to document this big event, except in my memory. And no one else was up there on that bluff to capture the moment using our old fashioned camera! But, we had a family dinner at the local Italian restaurant called Salvatore’s afterwards. Now that was documented. Big platters of wonderful Italian food served family style along with wine being passed around. What a great memory!
Mike’s mom was very ill so as soon as we got home to Colorado we began planning our wedding. Debi had time to sew four different shades of green polyester bridesmaid dresses with a little help, find a wedding dress, photographer, make green mints and green punch and order a cake, and 10 weeks later on March 17, 1978 we took an even bigger plunge…MARRIAGE! (And NO we aren’t Irish…just a fun date we chose) Mike worked at the school the entire Friday 17th while Debi had 2 days off to enjoy pedicures and have lunch with friends, get her hair done, and show up for the wedding. Her dad being a pastor, married us. Family and friends from California and Colorado attended our church wedding. We took the weekend off, stayed 2 nights in Glenwood Springs enjoying the hot tub and came back to work full time on Tuesday. That was what honeymoons were like back in those days! Our life journey together as husband and wife had officially begun and we hit the ground running!
Life continued to be very busy! LaVonna sadly passed in July 1978 just a few short months after our wedding. A beautiful lady that I look forward to seeing again when we reunite in heaven! In 1978 we contracted to have a modular unit built with the capacity for an additional 70 children. Then had our first child in July 1979. Isaac came to work with me starting at a week old and was in a little car seat on the floor in my office. We soon realized that I couldn’t get everything done with Isaac being with me at the school. We found a stay home parent from our school to watch him. Isaac was part of their family so we felt good about his care. But we changed our license to serve children starting at 12 months through 12 years of age so Isaac could start coming to school with us every day. Then in 1982 we started a second center. In 1983 Ashriel was born. We sold the second center in 1986. We had been leasing property for 11 years and wanted to find a piece of property we could purchase and create an environment. On June 1988 Mike found a 2¼ acre church property only 3 miles away from the original location. Wow! What potential!
There were many months before final approval was granted by the city to re-open in the new location in 1989. The building needed to be gutted and restored! It was accomplished with the help of the staff, their families and the childcare parents. Only nine weeks after closing on the property, “A Child’s Touch…” opened its doors for business at the new location on June 19, 1989.
In the fall of 1989 ground was broken for our new addition that would open in the spring of 1990 and we did all the building ourselves having a contractor friend on staff. The two schools were merged into one, thus reuniting the “Child’s Touch Family.”
In the spring of 1994, we broke ground for the new Toddler Building. It was ready just one week before the 94/95 school year started. God always provides in His timing!
During this entire time period we were also developing our one-acre playground creating a unique playground space for the children in our care.
We developed the idea of creating a town made of large buildings that would serve as unique spaces for the children designed for learning and a child’s creative imagination.
Our final out-building was dedicated to our wonderful staff. It became a staff lounge that served as a resource and exercise area, a place to rest, use computers or bond with co-workers. This building became the Creation Station in 2009 when the staff lounge was moved to the house next door.
In the summer of 2001 we built our second waterfall, the Columbine Memorial Park project. We also added our Ocean and Dinosaur Cabin in that area.
In 2003 we completed the Circle of Honor. It pays tribute to God, our great country and those that have served to protect our freedoms.
In 2005 we built the new Infant/Toddler north wing. The building is 4000 square feet with many state-of-the-art features such as radiant floor heating, a HEPA air filter system, custom cabinets, solid surface counters and a unique design.
In late 2005 and early 2006 we renovated the Toddler south wing.
We purchased the house next door at 9191 Poze on September 27, 2007. We slowly began the renovation process. We are using this property for summer camp space for the school age children, staff lounge, and continued working on the outside area creating a unique nature outdoor classroom.
ACT completed the task of converting the barren backyard into a nature playground for the children in August 2010. ACT received national certification from the Arbor Day Foundation for this new playground. We are one of the first 100 certified Nature Explore playgrounds in the nation.
We got the house approved for Summer Camp use and it has officially been labeled “The Hangout” by the School Age children. ACT also added a new fire alarm system to the “Hangout.” The new handicap ramp is made of stamped concrete and completes the entrance to the clubhouse as well as flowing with the natural theme of the NOC.
“A Child’s Touch…” received its accreditation in June 2014 from ACSI, the Association of Christian Schools International. Accreditation is a seal of quality on a childcare program and ACT is proud to be a leader in its profession in obtaining accreditation from an internationally recognized and very reputable organization. Their motto of strengthening Christian schools and equipping Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ aligns with ACT’s core values, mission, and vision. Only those schools that align with ACSI’s ten commitments and that pass a rigorous evaluation are eligible to become accredited by ACSI.
We completed the infant toddler nature outdoor classroom in 2018 with beautiful sail shades, water features, poured in place safety flooring and fun equipment geared just for our little ones. We also converted our asphalt playground into a concrete play space. We continue to make and improve spaces at the school. Mike and I have a cessation plan in place (although we love being a part of the school and won’t be gone anytime soon)! Some days can be challenging. We are thrilled with the team that will continue to lead ACT into the next 42 years!
We are truly blessed. Our children are married and we now have three grandchildren. Eliada is 4, Malachi is almost 3 and Caden just celebrated his first month of life. We were able to spend time in Florida meeting him and loving him and supporting his mommy and daddy.
On January 29, 2019 our entire family was celebrating Mike’s birthday in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I was sent on a rock hunt throughout the park by a guest. I wasn’t sure what my quest was but was having fun doing it. I had no idea it was actually planned and prepared by my husband. The last stop was in front of the castle where a beautiful purple rock had painted “Will you marry me?” on it. Mike got down on one knee as he had done so many years before and proposed to me again. I said YES again! The people around the castle all cheered! Pretty fun stuff…
It’s been quite the journey. Life challenges. Hills and valleys. No regrets! Since I had just said YES again, we decided to have a wonderful wedding celebration on July 27, 2019 and invite family and friends to be a part of our festivities. We wanted to acknowledge what God has done in our lives and recognize its preciousness!
We pray that you will celebrate with us and come expecting to have a fun time, and enjoy a magical weekend. Each little detail has been carefully planned, to celebrate our travels, God-winks, enjoy our love of magical moments, surprises, Disney memories, games and fun, show our creative side, enjoy tasty foods and drink, and have you, our friends, be a part of this celebration of life along with us!
We look forward to seeing each of you July 27 and July 28.
Mike & Debi