Sue Casey didn't have much time to talk during Saturday's 20th anniversary celebration – she was too busy hugging.
Families who have trusted their children to the downtown Farmington facility over the past two decades stopped by, including 20-year-old Elizabeth Heffron of Farmington Hills, who came to Sunny Day Care when she was just 7 weeks old.
"Their old location was right by where we lived," Elizabeth's mother Jill Heffron said. "I saw them and stopped in ... The staff was fabulous, there was a lot of love. It was a happy place to be."
Originally located near M-5 in Farmington Hills, Casey and her business partner Theresa Powers bought the former U.S. Post Office building on Slocum in downtown Farmington, where they've been for 13 years.
"I looked at 20 places and even made offers on some," Casey said, "but I'm so blessed none of that turned out ... it's awesome being in downtown Farmington."
Children in the elementary program, launched five years ago, can often be seen walking through town in their bright yellow t-shirts. The business has also gained higher visibility online, thanks to the efforts of parent Katie Rusak, who has worked on the website and launched a Facebook page, Casey said.
"I think she is one of the main reasons business has picked up," she added. "(Katie) got our face out there."
Families stay loyal
There were some hard years with the downturn in the economy, Casey said, but things are looking up. One thing that hasn't changed, she said, is the dedication of Sunny Day Care & Montessori's families. Parents will often hang around for a while when they come to pick up their children, to socialize or enjoy some "play time".
"I cannot say enough about how special Sunny Day Care is," Farmington mom Susan Lichtenberg said. "They set extremely high standards, and treat children with such love and care it is beyond reason."
While her children Thomas and Sophie have long since left the program, staff members still call to check in.
"Sunny Day Care is such a gem for Farmington, and through all these extremely hard times, it is amazing that they are not only still in business, but thriving," Lichtenberg said.
While things are looking up, Casey said, she is still saddened by the loss of her long-time friend and partner. Powers was diagnosed two years ago with a neurological disorder and had to leave the business. Her daughter Heather is now among the 17 staff members whose average stay with the company is 14 years.
Casey said she doesn't ever see Sunny Day Care & Montessori moving, and she's staying put for as long as she can, too.
"I love what I'm doing," she said.