Post and Mail photo / Christie Barkley: Judy Swanson takes time to read to her three-year-old grandson, Isaac Swanson. Judy was visiting New Hope Wesleyan Church on Sunday during the Early Learning Centerâs open house.
COLUMBIA CITY Â â Monday marked a new beginning for the Whitley County YMCA. The Early Learning Center opened its doors to serve as Whitley Countyâs newest childcare program.
The YMCA opened its new childcare program in response to the recent surprise closing of Stepping Stones day care.
According to YMCA Executive Director Erica Miller, offering the program was a natural fit for the YMCA.
âItâs the YMCAâs mission to meet the needs of the community and we saw the need to have a childcare program.â
The new program held a Sunday open house to welcome families and children to its location at New Hope Wesleyan Church.
Debbie Gates, the centerâs director, shared her enthusiasm for the new program.
âWe are excited for the new possibilities that will come out of this move. Weâve been working hard to get settled in and trying to make this a smooth transition for the families.â
Parents brought their children into the church to see classrooms equipped for yesterdayâs opening. Thirteen staff members, formerly employed with Stepping Stones, are now working as YMCA employees.
âThe church here has been great to work with. Theyâve done whatever was necessary to make us feel at home,âsaid Gates.
Members of New Hope Wesleyan Church were on hand Sunday to direct families as they came in. Church leaders agreed that the opportunity to serve the community through this new childcare program was one they didnât want to pass up.
Miller said that the childcare service is open to the community and not limited to YMCA members.