ere’s where the one-year-olds hang Judy Snow, the vice president of corout,” said Evan Breyer, the chairman porate affairs, led everyone inside. Four and founder of Growing Places, usher- kids decked out in big, sloppy art shirts, elbow deep in shaving cream, were ing the small tour group into the Infant 2 room. He couldn’t remember the last seated along the outer curve of a cashew-shaped table. They smeared and time he’d helped with a tour at the child care company’s ﬂagship facility. Probably slapped at the mess in front of them. “That’s one of our sensory stations,” not since he’d opened it seven years ago. This was a special case, though – he Judy said. “As you can see, it’s a hit.” needed to be on hand to meet some The other three children in the room important guests. Besides, he always got were digging through a large toy chest a kick out of seeing the children. and stockpiling choice pieces of loot.
Elmo dolls of all sizes ﬁgured heavily in the mix. Judy gestured toward a shelf holding tubs of Cheerios, raisins, and Goldﬁsh crackers, joking to the tour group, “Anyone want a snack?” In response to this apparently general invitation, a little girl dropped the maracas she’d been clutching and toddled over to the food. The teacher closest to the bins dipped into the raisins with a Dixie cup and said, “Okay, Ada, but just a few.” Judy chuckled and continued with her spiel about activities that develop
been calling her because he was working on a piece about child care in the community. “Sure,” Evan had said. “Let’s make it a twofer.” He’d heard that Delores was incredibly warm. She could probably be counted on to coo over the little ones and ask nice questions. She’d set a pleasant tone for the coverage. Delores did her job nicely. She fell in love with every child she met, even the rowdy pre-schoolers. When the group stepped into the Infant 1 room for a minute to say hello to the babies, Delores put a hand to her chest.
If Rob sat in the backseat, Evan thought, maybe he’d keep his mouth shut. Rob, giving his knuckles a quick, loud crack, looked oblivious. ﬁne motor skills. After they ﬁnished up in Infant 2, Evan thought, they should peek in on the babies – a sweet note to end the tour on – before meeting up with Rob Miranda, the CEO, for lunch. Evan had asked Judy to arrange this walkabout to woo a potential sponsor for a new program. The board of Growing Places wanted the company to provide scholarships for kids whose families demonstrated ﬁnancial need, and a corporate sponsor seemed like the perfect way to pay for the scholarships. Of the companies considered, the most promising turned out to be Thrivand, a maker of infant formulas, cereals, and beginners’ foods. The board hoped to offer scholarships at a number of the company’s day care facilities to start with and then, if the sponsor was pleased with the good press, extend the program to the other centers. Delores Dayton, head of PR at Thrivand, had seemed enthusiastic about the idea; she’d agreed to ﬂy with a few of her colleagues to Dublin, Ohio, to see Growing Places’ ﬂagship facility and talk over the possibilities. Judy had asked Evan if she could invite a local reporter to tag along for the tour. The reporter had Evan laughed. “Sorry,” he said. “We can’t let you take any of them home.” “You don’t know how much of a pleasure this is for me,” she said. “I spend all my time talking about what’s good for children, but I don’t get to spend time with them. My own are all grown up!” As the group headed upstairs to the corporate ofﬁces, where they had left their things, Evan heard Rob’s voice in the hallway. Good, he thought. After the...