In honor of Mother's Day, Woodridge Patch decided to profile a woman who is a mother figure to many.
Since 1990, Auntie B’s Daycare has been a home away from home for close to 80 kids.
Paul and Marybeth Drope, husband and wife, began their licensed business together when their children, Erik and Stephanie, were toddlers.
Marybeth’s nieces and nephews called her Auntie B because Marybeth was too difficult to say, so they used that name for the business. Her husband, Paul, is now known as Uncle Paul.
The business offers day-long daycare as well as a three-hour pre-school program for children ages 3 to 5.
During pre-school, which is held two to four times a week, the children focus on calendar time, the weather and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then they move into worksheets, projects and play time.
Some kids are part of the day-long daycare, while others just attend the pre-school program.
“Teaching is what I love to do,” Marybeth Drope said. “I want the kids who come here to love school and never be afraid to learn and make a mistake along the way.”
In the business' beginning, the daycare grew with the Dropes' children. When their kids were toddlers, the daycare consisted of mostly toddlers. As their children grew older, so did their clients.
“We had a big school-aged population for many years," she said. "We even owned our own yellow 12-person van, which looked like a bus, that we used for field trips and outings."
In 1993, thanks to one of the daycare families, Paul got a full-time job at the Metra Railroad. “We decided we needed health care and retirement benefits," she said.
So Paul went back to work and Marybeth hired her first of many assistants.
Her current assistant is her own daughter, now 22. Stephanie’s been an employee at the family business since she was 14, becoming her mom’s full-time assistant after high school in 2007.
“I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else,” Stephanie Drope said. “Not many people can say that when they walk into work they are greeted by 12 people shouting their name and giving you hugs.”
“Working with my Mom is great. She has taught me so much over the years, especially that the business is not just for the children, but for the whole family.”
Marybeth Drope said she loves involving the families in every aspect of daycare. Current clients have become friends, holding play dates and hanging out together outside of Auntie B's daycare.
From family field trips to holiday parties and summer art shows, she said she considers her clients family.
“They are all just an extension of my family and I treat them as such," Drope said.
The kids said they enjoy their time at Auntie B's. Five-year-old Amelia Ramsey from Naperville said, "She teaches us everything so well!” Ethan Erpanbach, 5, from Downers Grove, said his favorite thing about Auntie B is "the projects she lets us do."
But Drope has also become a trusted adviser and guardian.
Trust was a huge factor for Kathy Erpenbach, of Downers Grove, in determining where her son, Ethan, would go to daycare. He has a cow’s milk allergy and Kathy Erpenbach was very timid when looking for a daycare provider.
Ethan began at Auntie B’s in 2007 when he was 19 months old.
“Maybeth has done a fabulous job of being very stringent when looking at ingredients when serving Ethan food,” Kathy Erpenbach said. “She has consistently taken great care of the daily menu and there has never been an issue. “
“Additionally, she truly cares for all of the kids she watches. It is more than just a daycare provider keeping the children safe; she loves each of the children placed in her care as if they’re her own.”
Nancy and Anthony Romanelli of Lisle have been sending their girls Maggie and Jordan to Auntie B’s full-time since 2006. Maggie will enter kindergarten in the fall and is already reading. The couple said, “Simply put, Marybeth is our angel on Earth."