Why the Great Start Collaborative?  We are glad you asked.  The Great Start Collaborative (or GSC) is all about kids.  Words cannot describe how important our children in the Cheboygan Otsego, and Presque Isle counties are for the future of the communties in each of these counties.  Therefore, we collaborate-for the future is coming.


By bringing leaders, parents, teachers, social workers, pediatricians, and many others together, we can work together to see that our children and their parents have opportunties and services available to them to meet their needs.     

Now that you know the "why", what is the Great Start Collaborative? Our mission is to facilitate the growth of a caring community for young children and their families; and to allow children to be safe, healthy and ready for success in school and other life activities.  


Life is staring our children in the face.  What a great opportunity we have to invest in our children from birth to five years old, getting them ready to succeed in everything they do in life. Interested? We hope so, if you are interested in partnering with us contact Melinda Hambleton, our GSC Coordinator.  

Melinda Hambleton

Great Start Cheboygan Otsego Presque Isle County

Melinda is the coordinator that heads up the Great Start Collaborative for Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties.  She is the mother of three children and a grandmother of four. She has been working in the Early Childhood field since 1988.


Melinda's experience in the child care field makes her the perfect fit as the GSC Coordinator.  She has been the Coordinator for the GSC for almost 9 years, a Head Start Lead Teacher for 22 years, and employed at a Child Care Center for 1 year. Melinda also has her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelors Degree in Family Life Education.


Children are our future, and it is our duty as adults to invest in our children and community.  Parents have a responsibility to help their child(ren) develop in a safe and nurturing environment, and to be an active partner in their child's life and education.

Dawn Fenstermaker

Dawn Fenstermaker is the "go-to" person when it comes to the needs of parents in the COP counties. She sees to it that the needs of children and their parents are heard at the Great Start meetings.  She also is involved in the recruitment of new parents to join up with the collaborative and Dawn heads up the meetings of the Parent Coalition in each of the three counties with the Lead Parents of each county. Feel free to contact Dawn if you would like to hear more about the Parent Coalition!​


Dawn is a mother of 2, foster mother of 1. She has been a core member of the Parent Coalition for 3 1/2 yrs, and the liaison since March 2013.  She is also a member of GSC leadership team. In total she has been a foster parent for 16 years and has worked in early education for 2 1/2 yrs.  Her experience as a mom and foster mom for many years brings a special understanding and skill set to lead the Parent Coalition and give input to the GSC.  

Michigan Early Childhood Outcomes JPEG.j

Nothing ever gets done without a great team helping to make things happen. Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle Counties have a great team of leaders that are working together to make life and education better for our young children.  


The GSC leadship team consists of parents and professionals that work together. Below is a list of our leadership board: 


Melinda Hambleton (GSC Coordinator)


Pastor James Brabson (North Country Baptist Church)


Melanie Youngs (Early Headstart-NEMCSA


Dawn Fenstermaker  (Parent Coalition Liason to the GSC)


Karen Rauch-Smock

Kym Narayana

Danielle Melching




Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start