TREASE ROAD CHILD CARE CENTER
In the mid to late 1970's, a group of women of First Mennonite Church, Wadsworth began meeting several Monday nights a month for the purpose of recreation, support, encouragement, learning and sharing. The group represented a wide range of ages and experiences. They became known as the Monday Night Ladies Group. They met in various homes or went out to dinner and engaged in activities focused on their own needs and those of others for re-creation. Some of those who attended regularly included Barbara Horrisberger, Chris Klassen, Marion Stroud, Emma Stutzman, Lucie Nofziger, Elsie Steelberg, Iona Hostetter, Mary Croyle, Alice (Arden) Rohrer, Rachel Kreider and Adele Looney.
Feeling a need for parental relief from the rigors of child care and concerned that no adequate, safe place existed in the Wadsworth community to "drop off" children for short periods of time, the group decided to organize and plan for a "drop in" center for child care. As those plans evolved, it became obvious that it was impractical for staffing and financial reasons to have only a "drop in" center. A place providing more extended care was needed and so the planning for a full time child care center began to develop. However, on page 9 of the first parent's handbook there remained a "drop in" service incorporated into the final plans for the child care center.
In the fall of 1981, with the encouragement of Pastor Don Steelberg, Elsie Steelberg, Marion Stroud, Barb Horrisberger and Chris Klassen's energy, they began gathering data about child care centers. Barb and Chris visited a child care operated by Marilyn Kauffman at Martins Mennonite Church, Orrville, contacted numerous other people and organizations including Martha Graber, wife of the First Mennonite interim pastor, and Bobbie Mohr, then of Bluffton, Ohio, to assist in development of the "how to" of setting up a child care center. A steering committee was established and eventually a policy board was put in place and a philosophy developed. Page one of the first parent's handbook reads as follows:
The purpose of the Child Care Center is to be of service to the child, the parent and the community. Our intention is to provide a secure environment for growth, development, stimulating learning experiences and recreation. The individual child is our focus. His/her needs are important.
The Child Care Center does not replace the home, it complements it. It provides experiences with other children and adults under the supervision of trained personnel. This does not take the place of true love and understanding from parents and other family members.
The Trease Road Child Care Center is a state licensed non-profit organization established to meet the growing child care needs in the city of Wadsworth and surrounding communities. The license issued by the Department of Public Welfare is posted in the office for review. The State of Ohio Day Care Law and Administrative Rules which govern the operation of the Child Care Center are available in the directorīs office for review. Our Center is open to all children regardless of race, creed or sex.
Board and Staff
The Board of Directors of the Child Care Center is composed of nine members, the majority of six are representatives from First Mennonite Church. The remaining members are parents or parent representatives who are elected at the organizationīs annual meeting.
The Staff will include a director, secretary, well qualified teachers, a cook, a janitor and a treasurer. The state requires that the ratio of staff to children be at least one to eight for infants under 18 months; one to ten for older infants 18 months to 3 years; one to fifteen for preschoolers; and one to twenty for school age children kindergarten and above. Qualified volunteers will be welcome. The Trease Road Child Care Center is licensed to serve 65 children including eight infants, twelve toddlers aged 18 months to 3 years, 20 children aged 3 to 5 years and 25 "schoolers" in kindergarten and above. Small group sizes are maintained in each age group.
The Center officially opened April 12, 1982, under the directorship of Paulette Lewis who served a dual role as teacher and director. Barbara Horrisberger shared the administrative role. Marcy Eicher (Graham) and Paulette were the teachers. The center opened with much fear and apprehension. No one was certain how it would go and no one could foresee the tremendous response that occurred. Many, many people of First Mennonite church donated time, materials, energy and encouragement including making curtains, painting, donating books, toys, etc. The church provided $12,000.00 start-up funds in the form of a long-term loan. (Over the years, TRCCC repaid approximately $5,000 and in January 2001, First Mennonite Church voted to forgive the remaining debt.)
The center truly was and remains a labor of love to the Wadsworth community. Barb recalls and others have verified that the photo that appeared in the May 4, 1982 Sun Banner showing four children and a teacher actually showed only two children of the child care including one of Barb's.
The other two children were "borrowed" for the picture! By the fall and winter of 1982, the question became how to staff and operate an ever expanding demand for services. Barb recalls buying groceries, preparing breakfast, managing the finances, working with staff and parents. Her brother, Andy Kraska, built the lower section of the cupboard in what is now the office. Holmesbrook Lumber built the cubbies. Elton Beery built the first fence made from an old corn crib. Elton became known by the children as "Grandpa Beery"! Philip Croyle, son of Denton and Mary Croyle, provided legal counsel and put together the necessary materials for the center to qualify as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Ruth Yarman taught Barb how to do payroll. The Mennonite Women's Group made the sheets for the cots. Ervin and Emma Stutzman provided free laundry services at their Laundromat. Lucie Nofziger made the curtains. Gary Bush served for a time as an assistant administrator. Chris Klassen, Christy Beery Bush, Barb Newcomer, Angie Newcomer and Jan Croyle have all served as cooks and Jan has served as accountant on numerous occasions including the present. And on and on.....
Many people from First Mennonite have served on the Board throughout the years. Please look HERE for that list.
There have been six directors of TRCCC over the twenty years: Paulette Lewis, Barbara Horrisberger, Kim Wright, Sue Hoff, Eileen Funk and Mary Siebel.
The staff currently consists of twelve persons, three of whom are high school aides.
We have an enrollment of 40 children in combined classes of toddler, preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten and 45 school-age children. There is a long waiting list and the current director receives at least one call per day requesting service. The need was there in 1982 and remains. As a parent of a now 21 yr. old young man recently told me, "TRCCC was a God-send. I don't know what I, as a single parent, would have done without it. I always knew he was in good hands."
April 12, 2002 marked the 20th anniversary of the birth of TRCCC. Except for closing during one summer as a result of financial difficulties, TRCCC has provided continuous, excellent and loving care for literally hundreds of children in our community. The board and staff remain dedicated to its continuance.
My thanks to all who contributed materials, facts and memories for this report with special thanks to Alice Rohrer, Barbara Horrisberger, Marcy Eicher Graham, Chris Klassen and Elsie Steelberg.
Lowell M. Nofziger
February 16, 2002
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory
of children is their parents. Proverbs 17:6 CEV