Rockford Community Services

Rockford Preschool grooms future chefs

December 1, 2011 // 0 Comments

Watch out Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray!  by LYNN BEGIN along with CLIFF AND NANCY HILL               The Child Development Lab (CDL) Preschool is a popular and unique 36-week program offered every school year. This well-received preschool is held in a ground floor wing of the Rockford High School (RHS) with its own private entrance and fenced outdoor playground. Warm and nurturing teachers, with degrees, who provide a kindergarten-readiness curriculum, staff the CDL The CDL encourages curiosity, a love of learning, and the development of kind friendships in a safe and secure environment. This “state of the art “ program focuses on literacy, discovery, art, nature, field trips, and special events. One such special event recently held on Thursday, November 17 was a “Slurping Soup Grandparents Day” where the 3 and 4-year old classes became “cooks” as they helped to peel and chop the potatoes and carrots, and snap green beans—all necessary ingredients for a hearty and delicious vegetable soup. While the soup was simmering Grandparents arrived and the children, in an hour of fun, led their “papas” and “nanas” throughout the classroom while playing with their favorite toys. The beautiful brisk fall day came to a close as everyone sat down to slurp soup in the warm and cozy CDL preschool room. The kids unanimously agreed that Grandparents are “soup-er”! Parents considering enrolling their preschoolers in future CDL classes will be encouraged to know that RHS students play a valuable role in the CDL classroom. As part of the curriculum for their high school child development class, parenting class, or living skills class, high school students learn about various aspects of a young child’s development. From an observation room they are able to observe and explore positive guidance techniques and activities for preschoolers before they, too, can begin to interact with the young children. The interactions between the high school students and the children allow the preschoolers to receive additional attention as the high school students work with the children and use their newly learned knowledge in a realistic situation with the ever-present support of the preschool staff. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved! For CDL information or class enrollment contact Rockford Community Services at: or call […]

Chef educates Rockford with culinary expertise

August 18, 2011 // 0 Comments

Robin Toldo is a locally trained chef who has been teaching fun, informative and delicious classes in the Rockford area for the last four years, as well as adult enrichment cooking classes for Rockford Community Services. “I have endeavored to work in every aspect of the culinary world, starting at the age of 14 at the infamous west side hangout, Sandy’s Donuts. What fun! I then moved on to a busy and rambunctious—and that is putting it lightly—downtown deli,” Toldo said. Next was catering for the Marriott Corporation in Sault Ste. Marie, while attending Lake Superior State University for a major in psychology and a minor in child development. That didn’t turn out to be her life’s destiny, so back to Grand Rapids she went to attend Grand Rapids Community College’s culinary arts program. Along with the move came a position at the original Pietro’s Ristorante. “Crazy, busy, delish. I waitressed at night and did food prep during the day,” Toldo said. The next interesting job was one that would, unknowingly, prepare her for life as a busy mother of five. “I became an in-home personal chef for the Baar family. I created the work-week’s meals, did the grocery shopping, as well as the food preparation—AND the dishes, ugh!—for a family of four,” explained Toldo. A tour through the prestigious Kent Country Club placed her in a “rounds chef” tutelage with Certified Executive Chef Brian Walsh. There, Toldo saw her destiny: fresh local cuisine, powerful in flavor, color and texture. “I was in love with food. Someone once dubbed me ‘Ratatouille’ from the kid’s movie—perfect!” said Toldo. “There, I learned classical French cuisine in all of its glory, and worked with some amazing, well-trained people, including a guy named Derek, who now stars in an ice-carving show on television.” The end of culinary school brought yet another urge to broaden her resume. Toldo sent out letters to places all over out west, including “The Ranch,” a fancy four-diamond restaurant in the resort town of Keystone, Colo., where she eventually worked as the head of the “Garde Manger,” a super fancy French way of saying “cold food.” Having a busy family life here in Michigan, Toldo wanted to indulge her passion for all things food, yet stay […]


August 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT Race For Healthy Kids on October 8  by LISA JACOBS Exective Director, Rockford Community Services and DAWN DAVIES Public Health Educator Kent County Health Department For the second year in a row, Rockford Community Services (RCS) and Rockford Public Schools (RPS) will have a wonderful opportunity to partner with the West Michigan Action for Healthy Kids (WMAFHK). WMAFHK is a nonprofit volunteer network fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment. WMAFHK works with schools and families to improve nutrition and physical activity to help our kids learn to eat right, be active every day and be ready to learn. The sponsors and members include Spectrum Health, Kellogg’s, Kent County Health Department, United Lifestyles, Kent County Sheriff’s Department, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and RPS. The partnership includes a 5k walk/run for adults, and a Fruity Fun Run just for kids. The race and course takes place at Rockford High School and the surrounding area on October 8, 2011. Proceeds from the race go directly to support WMAFHK. The nonprofit coalition works with schools to help kids learn to be healthy and active every day. The first-year proceeds will go directly to help Meadow Ridge and Roguewood elementary schools. WMAFHK will donate pedometers, water bottles, running shoes and free registrations for this year’s race to start the 2011-2012 school year moving! There is a $20 registration fee for the 5K walk/run event ($10 student rate) and a $5 fee for the Fruity Fun Run. Registration forms can be downloaded from Completed forms and registration fees can be done online, dropped off or mailed to Dawn Davies at the Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. If you are interested in becoming involved with WMAFHK or the network, please contact Dawn Davies at or Lisa Jacobs at Please register and help the WMAFHK support programs that encourage healthier kids, families and schools to get outside and be active!

Gardens bringing community together

June 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

School project receives ‘overwhelming response’ A new project taking place at two Rockford school locations has grabbed the attention of the community and is about more than just growing vegetables and flowers. Rockford Community Services (RCS) has two community garden locations. One is located behind the administration building with 40 raised beds. The second location is at East Rockford Middle School (ERMS). The ERMS garden has 14 raised beds. “There has been such an overwhelming response for the 2011 growing season,” said Nancy Seeley of RCS. “Both locations are sold out!” On Saturday, May 7, many of the community gardeners came out to help build the raised beds. The beds were completed by hardworking gardeners, volunteers and Rockford Public Schools staff. The rest of the work was completed by gardeners themselves. They have been very creative and many have planted vegetables, fruit bushes and flowers in their beds. The beds will belong to the same gardener as long as they choose to participate. Many are planting the garden beds with the intent of keeping the same location. The Rockford High School construction class also assisted with placing a garden shed at each location. No garden is complete without a shed. RCS and community gardeners appreciate all the hard work the high school students put into the sheds and adding a much needed feature to each location. The 2011 growing season seems to be off to a great start. Many gardeners are looking forward to a fruitful first year. For more information about the gardens, please contact RCS or Nancy Seeley at (616) 863-6322 and look for more updates and information on the progress of the Rockford Community Gardens.  

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