Kidzone, kids and facility growing together

Kidzone, kids and facility growing together

Our daughter Samantha will be 26-years old next month. It’s easy to remember,  because she was born Thanksgiving Day 1990; it makes for the kind of math that an English major can figure. Her birthday always brings to mind the memory of her mother and me interviewing Ida Grove’s Clara Bennigsdorf for Sam’s day care.

It makes me laugh now to think of it. Clara, and her husband Russ, are our kids’ Ida Grove grandparents. At the time, we didn’t know that we would be so lucky… and, as absurd as it seems, we were right to ask questions of the people we would entrust to our daughter’s care.

And few others understand the need for this trust like Sarah Sholty and Janice Nelson, two board members for Kidzone Day Care, currently located at Ida Grove’s Methodist Church. These two ladies are part of a six-member board that includes President Lex Jacobsen, Vice President Nelson, Treasurer Sholty, Secretary Janet Todd, Retha Harrington, and Becky Delong.

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Sholty, Nelson, and I got together after a Kidzone board meeting. We sat in what will be the lunchroom and where the kids will have indoor activities. I wondered what has inspired these ladies to be involved in an undertaking as large as this… a daycare looking for a large building to care for 80 kids from 6 weeks to 12 years old.

“Retha [Harrington] watched our children [Joel, Sherry, and Brian] years ago as a day care provider,” said Nelson. “She always encourages us to do what is best for the kids that Kidzone cares for…” Nelson’s husband Ed has been an employee for Midwest Industries for 28 years and acts as volunteer for the daycare.

Kidzone acquired their new building – the former Heartland Baptist Church – in July 2015. “We were looking at another building,” stated Sholty. “The owners were coming down in price, but they were still looking for almost $200,000. We were able to acquire the church for much less, and it still met our needs even with quite a bit more work to do.” Sholty, and her husband Mike, have two children, Dylan and Leah; Mike serves as a volunteer for the organization.

That work included dismantling the former church nursery and office and any other facet of the building that did not meet code. “It was important that we included our region’s fire marshal and Department of Human Services as well as an architect,” stated Sholty. “We have enlarged bathroom stalls for handicapped access and have made sure we have the appropriate number of bathroom stools and sinks.”

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Kidzone is currently housed at the Ida Grove Methodist Church, a venue that is able to accommodate 50 kids. The new location will double the number of infants cared for and accommodate thirty more children. There will be separate rooms for 6-week olds to one year, one-year-old, two-year-old, three and four-year-old, and school-aged to 12. It’s a number that requires a boys’ and girls’ restroom, laundry room, office, and twenty-member staff.

And, as you might imagine, it’s a community necessity – a community with a few manufacturers and numerous other businesses. The board’s fundraising goal is $250,000, only half collected for at this time. “It seems that everything involved costs a minimum of $10K,” stated Nelson. “A commercial kitchen range hood is well over $30,000.” The day care also is seeking to pay for a playground.

As we walk through the building, it’s easy to see the group’s accomplishments. The rooms are dry-walled, fire exits easily identified, and most importantly – for this father who eventually will tread into grandpa-hood – each room has a large-glass window for those who visit and want to view engaged or napping children.

But, beyond the necessities – safety, nutrition, and playtime – is a board who dreams about our kids’ future. “We want them to use their imagination to explore,” said Sholty. “We see an outside garden where children learn to grow and get to know science and contribute to their nutrition. It should be a fun, natural experience. “

This year, the board has had four Farmer’s Market grill-outs to raise funds. According to Nelson and Sholty, Financial institutions and businesses have also contributed to their success. This upcoming Saturday, October 22nd, is their annual fundraiser, a Halloween Party at the Community Hall, from 5-8 PM.  Admission is $10.00 per family.

If you’d like to be part of Kidzone’s future through donation, volunteer-work, or contributing to a fundraising event, please contact a Kidzone Day Care staff member at 712-364-2061.

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