A new home away from Home
What started as a dream has now turned into reality for the staff of a Blue Earth childcare center.
It has included a name change, new location, and a new focus.
What was Little Lukes Childcare Center has now become Little Giants Early Learning Center.
The change included moving from a small space at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center, to a spacious facility at the Ag Center at 425 South Grove.
The move and name change are complete, and Little Giants will celebrate with an open house Tuesday, Dec. 2, from 5:30 – 8 p.m. A ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m.
“We are very proud of our new home and want to show it to the public,” Director Lynn Anderson says. “We hope everyone comes and takes a look.”
Actually, Anderson says at least a hundred people have stopped in during the past few weeks, just to take a peek at the new facility.
Getting the whole project done has not been easy, Anderson says.
“It all started in February 2006,” she recalls. “It was the brainchild of (former city administrator) Ben Martig.”
Anderson says Martig’s family was one of many on a waiting list to get into Little Luke’s. He talked to Anderson about finding a larger space and expanding the facility.
“Ben talked to Bevcomm about donating this building,” Anderson says. “It had been empty for a couple of years.”
Martig also got the city involved. Little Luke’s was run as a joint venture between the Blue Earth Area Schools, which ran the childcare center and St. Luke’s, which furnished the space.
Now the city owns the building, and leases the site to the school for use as Little Giants.
Martig also worked on getting a U.S.D.A. grant and loan which funded the remodeling of the building and turning it into a child care and early childhood learning center.
“Basically the lease we pay to the city will repay the loan to the U.S.D.A.,” Anderson says. “At the end of the lease we will see if we will continue the center, or do something different.”
The construction of the new center, and thus the move from the old one, has gone through several delays.
“Most of the postponements were due to all of the ‘hoops’ we needed to jump through to get the loan and grant,” Anderson says.” After that there was a delay caused by some of the changes in construction schedules. We hit the busy season, when we had hoped to get it done in the off-season.”
Originally Anderson had planned to be in the new center by February. That was delayed to April, then to June, then August.
Finally, the actual move was made on Oct. 21, with the help of numerous parent volunteers.
Anderson says the new focus of the center is on learning.
“We did a lot of education things before, but now we are concentrating on pre-school enrichment,” she says. “So we decided to change the name to ‘Early Learning Center.’
The teachers prepare educational activities for each age level.
With the move into a new home, Little Giants is growing.
“We were licensed for 42 kids at our old site,” Anderson explains. “Now we are licensed for 63 kids, from six-weeks old to six-years old.“
There are more changes coming. Anderson says Little Giants is planning some future community involvement programs.
“We are going to start a Saturday gym session, open to the public,” she explains. “We are also going to have a toy and book lending library.“
Both of these programs are a joint venture with Early Childhood Family Education and the Early Childhood Initiative, and will start in January.
Another service will be renting out the facility for birthday parties.
“We will have a staff member here to help put on the party and play games,” Anderson says. “We won’t furnish food – that will be up to the parents.“
Anderson says the new programs are part of their focus to be a part of the community.
“We are thankful to so many people and this is a way we can repay the community,” says Anderson.