by Karen Wenger
The Elizabethtown Child Care Center (ECCC), which is housed within our church building, will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary. This monumental landmark would not occur if it weren’t for the ongoing generosity of the members of this congregation who have provided the day care with a home since 1989.
That year, ECCC, which originally was based at Christ Lutheran Church, expanded its mission to take care of infants and school age children. Our church provided the space for the additional population. In 1999, the entire operation was moved under one roof to our facility, where it remains today, presently serving 140–150 children five days a week. Twenty-nine percent of the families using this service receive financial aid from governmental programs, the United Way, or private contributions.
In addition to the ECCC, we also house the Elizabethtown Community Nursery School (ECNS). This is a more traditional set-up, where preschool aged children attend classes several days a week. Ten percent of the families using the nursery school receive financial aid from either contributions managed by the nursery school or from the United Way.
Families in the area benefit by having access to affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool education programs. Indeed, ECCC has received the highest ranking granted by the Keystone Stars program. And the Community Nursery School is the only accredited preschool in Lancaster County by the National Association for the Accreditation of Young Children.
The generosity of this church has enabled both programs to keep costs lower for the families that utilize their services. The mission of both the day care and the nursery school aligns with our church’s commitment to be a positive presence in our community. It could be argued that if it weren’t for us, these two organizations would cease to exist.
A vote taken at the last Church Council meeting in May overwhelmingly approved to continue hosting both ECCC and ECNS. We as a congregation have confirmed our commitment to invest in affordable child care and early childhood education by subsidizing rent, providing a clean and secure space, and by working together to share communal space.
But can we take this commitment one step farther? What can we do to help this cause besides being a beneficent landlord? What can we do to make this service opportunity work? Some folks in this congregation are meeting with staff from the nursery school and the child care center to see how we can enhance our involvement in the care and education of the children who spend so much time in our midst. Ideas? Suggestions? Please contact Pat Williams, Jim Hollinger, or Karen Wenger.