New Goessel child care center opens

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
To meet a need in the Goessel community, local churches, families and businesses have come together to find a solution-and maybe set a precedent for the rest of the county.


According to Dena Schmidt, secretary for the Joyful Noise Child Care Center Board, “The daycare facilities in Goessel have decreased 75 percent in the last two years. We had to do something.”


Early last year a group of representatives from Goessel, the Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Tabor Mennonite Church, and the Goessel Mennonite Church, plus parents, met to begin planning the Joyful Noise Daycare and After School Program.


As the plans began to unfold, more people became involved and board members found things “just falling into place.”


Steven Cranston, a local surgeon, donated an unused medical clinic with four city lots to the project. With this donation came a new thinking and planning process for the young board.


“The building itself was pretty much gutted out,” Skye Young said. “But we have had volunteers come forward and work very hard.”


The building will initially be a day care center for preschool-aged children. Plans are to add care for toddlers and infants as the money and building will allow.


The board hopes someday to have a larger building on the vacant four lots for a summer-care program for children.


“Right now we are working on a shoe-string budget,” Young said. “We will grow in what we can do as as the money comes in.”


The designs for the facility include carpeted floors with a large room divided into centers for the children. These centers will be divided with bookshelves to hold books, toys and other supplies.


“We are not a preschool,” said Schmidt. “But we will have age-appropriate activities for the children.”


Young said the program will have weekly themes which will have structured activities built around them.


“We will have dramatic plays, music and creative arts planned for the children,” Young said.


A van was donated to the cause by a local family. Schmidt said preschool-aged children who attend Gayle Voth’s Kinder Hause, a local preschool, will be taken to the school on their assigned days.


“We want to support Kinder Hause, which has been here for many years,” said Schmidt. “Being able to take and pick students up from their preschool will be a great service we can offer to families.”


While it may seem the project took off without hitches, Schmidt described a “big blow” that came just before Christmas.


“Everything was falling into place and things were looking so good,” she said. “We were looking at our opening to be Jan. 2. All of a sudden we received word our grant application had been turned down.


“It was terrible,” Young said. “Just before Christmas and all. We were very disappointed.”


But the women said the community, instead of giving up, began to pull together stronger than ever with support and prayer.


“We heard over and over, ‘What can I do to help?,'” Schmidt said. “People told us they were praying for us and things really began to happen.”


Pella Windows and Doors, Hutchinson, donated windows and doors for the building. People began donating all kinds of toys. Decorators Touch in Newton offered carpet at a discounted price and free installation.


Many other donations made it possible for the project to have its open house from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 4.


“We will have tours of the facility, refreshments, and parents can meet our staff,” Young said.


“There will also be activities for the children,” Schmidt said. “We want to thank the people in the community for all the prayer and support they have given us. It has made this possible.”


At this time, the center is able to continue on course without the aid of the grant which was denied. But in February, they will reapply for the grant to build the program and offer more services to area children.


Young said the center is now accepting enrollment applications.


“The sheets for enrollment are available at the Coop and other places around Goessel,” she said. “We currently have about one-fourth of our openings filled.”


The fees for daycare will be set on a sliding scale.


Another side of Joyful Noise Child Care is the after-school program which was started last fall.


“We wanted to meet the needs of the older children, too,” said Sandi Thompson, director.


Ten to 15 students from first through the sixth grade come regularly to the program, but 53 are enrolled.


“These other students come to special classes or activities offered, or just come as needed when parents have other appointments,” Thompson said.


Students have time to work on their homework, have weekly computer classes, have snacks and participate in other scheduled activities throughout the week.


Funding for the after-school project comes partly from the Communities in Schools after-school program.


“Joyful Noise is working in partnership with Communities In Schools on a variety of common ventures,” said Linda Ogden, CIS executive director.


As a fund-raiser for the center, the JNCC board and staff will be having a benefit supper starting at 5 p.m., and an auction which will start at 6:30 p.m.. Saturday, Jan. 27 at the Mennonite Heritage Complex.


According to board members, Van Schmidt has donated his time for the auction. The board appreciates any and all donations.


“We will be auctioning some of the supplies not used in the building project,” said Young, director of the Child Care Center.


The other JNCCC board members are: Laura Dailey, President; Barb Goering, Tim Goertzen, Verda Wedel, and Angie Duerksen, administrator.


The resignation of a Tabor church representative has left a vacancy on the board.

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