FORT LEWIS, Wash. - In support of the Army Family Covenant, the first of several new child development centers opened at Fort Lewis Dec. 1, 2008.

The official grand opening and dedication ceremony of the Eileen Beaulieu Infant Toddler Child Development Center was delayed until Jan. 14 because of December's heavy snow.

Bill Harvey, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, opened the ceremony by welcoming Eileen Beaulieu's family members - Robert Beaulieu, former husband; Vonnie and Tom Leighton, parents; Tim Leighton, brother; Erin and Rom Laverdiere, sister and brother-in-law, and their daughter Brianne (niece).

What made the event so special, according to Col. Cynthia A. Murphy, garrison commander, was that it was being dedicated to Beaulieu, a former Child Care director at Fort Lewis, who lost her battle with cancer in 2002. Murphy listed Beaulieu's accomplishments.

"After working as a training and curriculum specialist and Family Child Care director at Fort Lewis, Beaulieu accepted a position with the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center as a child and youth program specialist," Murphy said.

While there, Beaulieu led an initiative to revised the CDC Mobilization and Contingency Handbook, developed (a Web-based program for marketing FCC homes), and established the Family Child Care Military Home Accreditation Program (a joint initiative of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to recognize high-quality FCC homes), Murphy said.

"For her efforts, Eileen Beaulieu was awarded the Child and Youth Services Pioneer Award, the highest award given to Child and Youth Services employees," she said.

Following Murphy's remarks, Robert Beaulieu and Tom Leighton did the honors of unveiling the Eileen Beaulieu plaque. It reads:

"We dedicate this building to the memory of Eileen Beaulieu, who dedicated herself to the Army's children, giving love, kindness, respect and empathy to the important and difficult work that comes with providing quality child care."

Grace Jacoby, spouse of Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the commander of I Corps and Fort Lewis, and Myriam Arroyo, director of the new facility, joined Murphy and members of the Beaulieu family for the ribbon cutting.

The center, with a capacity of 67, has six rooms. Four rooms are for infants (six weeks to 11 months) with nine children in each. The other two rooms are for pre-toddlers (12 to 17 months) and toddlers (18 to 36 months), and there are 13 children in each of those two rooms, Arroyo said.

"This is my first year of being a director of a child development center," Arroyo said. "It's an honor to be in a center that's dedicated to someone who had given such a great part of her life to improve the care of military children."

But Beaulieu's legacy even went beyond her work with the Army.

"She was a true inspiration to me, and her memory continues to inspire me," said Erin Laverdiere, who works at the Sumner School District. "She had a passion for children and wanted to provide for them a facility that is world class. I, to this day, use her passion for kids in the work I do in my job."

During the next two years, four additional modular child care facilities and two after-school care facilities will be built at Fort Lewis. Two youth centers and two child care centers for school-age children are also planned.

"Child care is a major focus of the Army Family Covenant," said Barbara Sporcic, CYSS.

Barbara L. Sellers is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.