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|FUMC: Growing children, growing center|
First United Methodist Church's daycare officials expect to double the number of children now that its new childcare facility is open.
The new $2-million, 17,400-square-foot daycare building has been open for about a month.
Daycare director Sue Anderson said there are currently 55 children enrolled at the church's day care. The church has already enrolled 10 additional children since opening the new building. Anderson expects 20 more children will be enrolled there by the end of summer.
Denise Hardy, director of children's ministries, said the church decided several years ago to construct a new daycare facility. The idea came about after several local daycare facilities closed, including those at North Monroe Baptist Church and Parkview Baptist Church.
First United Methodist Church saw the need for more daycare providers to serve parents and children who were without a daycare.
Around that time, the economy began to sour somewhat, but the church knew it couldn't abandon the project.
"The church was still growing and our members were still committed to the needs of our community, so we went ahead with it," Hardy said. "It's just been phenomenal how they've pulled together to meet the financial part of this."
"We knew it was such a big need in the community," she said. "God has just honored that."
The project was funded wholly by members at First United Methodist Church of Monroe. The church has roughly 1,200 members.
Now that the facility is complete, daycare officials will begin making calls to parents who have been on the waiting list. Some have had their name on that waiting list for a number of years.
"With all the people we've got on the waiting list, we could have filled this place when the doors opened, but we wanted to work out all the kinks first," Hardy said. "We're using all the rooms now, and we can just add children."
"We're very excited to have this now because it has freed up some of the rooms and spread us out some," Hardy added.
Anderson added, "Yes, we absolutely love it. It's much bigger than the other one and the rooms are bigger, too. The kids love it and the parents love it, too. We are so thankful for what the church has done this for us. Words cannot express just how much we appreciate it. We have church members who walk through here wanting to see the center. We wouldn't have this center if it wasn't for them."
She said the Rev. Dr. Larry Stafford views the daycare as a form of ministry to the community.
"The church also believes in that concept, and this has stemmed from that," Anderson said. "There's truly a need in the community for good daycare centers."
"Today, it takes two parents having to work to maintain a household, so you really need a good quality daycare," Anderson continued. "Brother Larry felt we needed to get this done, and that has been his mission. We wish other churches would take the initiative to either reopen or open daycares because there is such a need to help our families out there."