2021 Heart of Service Award

The Sharon R. Veatch Heart of Service Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an early childhood professional each year who embodies longevity and overall excellence in the child care field, with 20+ years of service and a demonstrated commitment to caring for the growth, development, and well-being of children. We are so excited to announce this year’s winner…Mercedes Dash! Ms. Dash currently owns a family day home in Fairfax, VA. She received 22 nominations from parents and community members. These individuals were eager to highlight Ms. Dash’s achievements in the field of early childhood education. Here are some highlights from the nomination stories…

Mercedes has over 30 years of experience, and it seems like every week somebody is thanking her for watching their child from 10-20 years ago. Mercedes has been a community member, a mother, and an activist in Fairfax County. She’s worked with Sharon Bullova (took care of the Bullova kids), Gerry Connelly, has served on the Fairfax County Advisory Board, and even went back to GMU and recently received her Bachelor Degree in Education.  

There are so many stories about how Mercedes goes above and beyond to care for families and children. She is incredibly knowledgeable about child development and is an extremely loving and nurturing caretaker. Not only does she take care of babies, she also offers a preschool program which prepares kids for kindergarten. Children thrive when they attend All Star Care. 

Mercedes not only teaches more standard curriculum such as letters, numbers, and science (like her garden unit), but she also intentionally teaches about diverse cultures and acceptance. Mercedes brings culture to her classroom, and exposes children to traditions all around the world. The children pick up Spanish by being around her. She celebrates a variety of holidays with the kids- for example, Hanukkah, Christmas, Lunar New Year, Easter, and more. She is unbiased, teaching the kids to respect all cultures and religions.  She teaches the kids through play, crafts, and other experiences. Families depend on her and look to her for support and guidance during some of the most important years.Many of her clients are brought to her by word of mouth from previous clients.

She is a leader within the child care community. She provides a safe, warm and loving, educational, and creative environment for them! Her commitment to quality child care prepares them for elementary school and helps to make them responsible, respectful, inquisitive, and kind individuals. Her consistent motivation to improve and stay involved is truly admirable. Plus – there is the peace of mind for us as parents being allowed to succeed in our professional lives! No one is more deserving of this award than Mercedes Dash!

Congratulations to Ms. Dash, and to all of our wonderful and deserving nominees, who truly reflect what Heart of Service is all about!