Betty Druckenmiller

“I get a great deal of satisfaction out of caring for these children and knowing that I’m helping families in the community.”

Allentown, Pennsylvania - February, 2021

My name is Betty Druckenmiller. I am the Director of the Volunteers of America Children’s Center.

In 1978, I walked in expecting to work at the Center while I looked for another job.

Prior to coming here, I was a public school teacher. At that time, there weren’t a lot of jobs available and I thought that I could work at the Children’s Center for a while, until I found a teaching job. That was 43 years ago and I’m still here. I’ve been the director for eight years.

The Center cares for kindergarten and school-age children. It provides high quality learning and childcare for children aged 13 months to fifth grade. We have before and after school care year-round. This helps families where parents are working and/or going to school. Families pay based on a sliding scale and about half of the children we serve are subsidized.

The pandemic has lowered the number of children coming to the Center. Because so many parents are working from home and children are going to school virtually, many children are at home with their family. For the children that still come to the Center (about 50% of the number in pre-pandemic times,) we help them with their virtual learning. All children two and older wear masks and we clean vigilantly. We’ve had no cases of Covid.

The Children’s Center shut down in mid-March during the pandemic and remained closed through mid-June. We were able to get trainings and planning done during that time.

I get a great deal of satisfaction out of caring for these children and knowing that I’m helping families in the community.

When I’m not at the Center, I’m often playing music with my family and performing at various venues. Around the age of 40, I learned to play the old-time fiddle (think square dance music) and sing old sentimental Carter family songs. My husband Tom plays guitar and banjo and also sings. Old-time is the community music that preceded bluegrass—front porch music. Before the pandemic, we played for dances, square or contra. Our son played with us too before he moved. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo and the fiddle really well.

I’ve kept my music life separate from my work. It is very therapeutic and has been an important part of our family life.