Having Burger be the initiator of this year’s #GivingTuesday campaign seemed only natural, since she has a unique ability to make people listen and do whatever she tells them. Burger was the first teacher I ever met at EC3—my daughter started here in the Penguin room—and she captivated me from day one. Her accent, the cadence of her speech as she talked to the kids, her patience, her confidence; she was (and is) fascinating. To this day, I credit Burger for teaching me everything that was important for the parent of a toddler to know.
Burger started at EC3 in February of 1989, when we were still located at Nandy House on the campus of the Michigan School for the Blind. Twenty-two years old, newly married and newly emigrated from Germany, Claudia Conley was a tiny, quiet thing. She had very little child care experience, and she hired in as a support staffer. She learned quickly and began to find her sea legs, both at EC3 and in America—she loved the fast food restaurants so much that she earned her nickname, and she’s been Burger ever since.
By the time EC3 moved into the building it now calls home, in 1998, Burger was a full-time teacher and already familiar with EC3’s financial strains. There had been several years without pay increases by then, and she knew firsthand that this little nonprofit would need more than family tuition dollars to keep going. Burger was among the first group of EC3 staff to help put on an “art auction” at the new site, modeling it after a family event they used to do at Nandy House. She understood that it takes a whole lot of folks working together to make ends meet, and she loved EC3—and the families—enough to give it her all.
She’s still giving it her all, and she’s still sending the message that EC3 is worth whatever people can donate to keep it going. Burger works hard, and she knows that EC3’s families work hard too; she also knows what people can achieve if they’re given a little encouragement and a lot of love. That’s the real message of her video—give whatever you can, help in whatever way you know how, and good things will happen. Burger sees this kind of growth in the kids every day.
EC3 depends on non-tuition revenue—donations—now more than ever before. When my daughter was at EC3 and I was paying tuition, I didn’t have a lot extra to donate myself, but I asked my parents and in-laws to give what they could. We don’t expect to make our fundraising goal solely on the backs of families with young children—but “ol’ Burger” knows that everyone can pass along a link to someone else who might donate. Here it is: https://donate.ec3kids.org/