When Dee Dobitz got off the phone after reluctantly agreeing to work at the first community owned daycare in Bowman, she had no idea that her decision would span over the next 18 years. Visiting with Dee in her office at Tot Lot Daycare in Bowman, years of memorabilia, mostly homemade arts and crafts from little ones who have been cared for at the daycare facility, adorn her office. Her husband Ken came in to visit and share their story on how 18 years have come and gone and all the changes from the growing children to the many new regulations that daycare facilities must abide by.
Dee started her childcare career in Amidon, serving the daycare needs of Slope County. After just two years there, the lack of children needing daycare resulted in the facility closing. Shortly after, Dee received a phone call from Karla Germann, who had organized and started a community owned daycare to help assist with daycare shortages that the community was facing at the time. It was called Tot Lot Childcare Inc., and it was located in a singlewide trailer house close to the railroad tracks on the northwest side of Bowman. It really was a great location for kids, they loved that choo choo train. And it was a really, good thing that Dee’s husband was handy with tools. Over the next 11 years, Dee poured her heart and soul into every child that came through the door of Tot Lot. And Ken spent hours pouring his blood sweat and tears, well, maybe he left the tears to the babies, but he worked hard making that daycare center a safe and functional place for children to be watched while their parents or guardians were away at work. Many may not have known that Ken has volunteered his labor to Tot Lot Childcare since 2001. From mowing, snow removal, fixing trikes, to working at various fundraising events, Ken has been there through it all.
In 2011, the Tot Lot staff and current families that utilized the daycare realized that the current building and location was no longer adequately meeting the needs of the daycare. With Dee’s leadership, they began fundraising for a dream of something more. Ken and Joyce Luff of Luff Oil Exploration heard the community’s need for a new facility for the not-for-profit daycare and agreed to fund the project. November 19, 2012 was the first day of daycare in the new, state-of-the-art daycare facility, that had more than enough room to meet state regulations and adequate space to grow for pre-school or population growth.
Dee’s last day serving as the Daycare Director at Tot Lot was July 31. She will be working some in August to assist with the transition. “It’s the kids. It’s the kids who I am going to miss the most and the staff,” said Dee. “But keeping up with Government Regulations is something I’m definitely not going to miss.” Dee passes over her leadership role to Amy Haugen who has worked there since 2013.
The Tot Lot’s Board of Directors is hosting a Celebration to honor Dee on her Retirement and thank Ken for his years of volunteer service. The event will take place on Tuesday, August 13th at the Bowman City Park (north side) from 5-7pm. Everyone is welcome. (In case of increment weather, the celebration will be held at the Tot Lot Daycare facility.)