Eight staff members and up to 27 children used to occupy space in a house next to St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brownstown.
That had served as the home of St. Peter’s Child Care Ministry since 2002.
Now on the other side of the church in a brand-new building at Elm and Bridge streets, there are 13 staff members, and up to 49 kids can be served.
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A new building had been in the works for a while, and there used to be a long waiting list for child care, so this was a long time coming.
“We noticed obviously the need for child care, and what better way to build a ministry starting with the first ages of a kids’ life,” said Denise Stevens, the facility’s director since August 2019.
She worked with a six-member board and a seven-member building committee to make the building a reality.
After volunteers helped tear down the home on the corner that previously served as the church’s preschool and youth house, Goecker Construction of Seymour started work on the new building Feb. 7, the ministry opened in the new location Oct. 12 and an open house was Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
“I just think it’s a huge blessing from God obviously, but, too, with the not-so-many-positive things this year, this was something that everyone could look forward to,” Stevens said.
“Church members looked forward to it. Parents looked forward to it. Our staff members looked forward to it,” she said. “Even the kids, they were like, ‘They are doing such a great job working on our new day care.’ That’s so cool, too. It just gave everybody a little more hope.”
It’s bigger, more spacious and more organized, Stevens said.
“The flow is just so much better because we went from a house to an actual building, so I think that is a huge plus,” she said. “The kids love it. The parents have even said this is a huge upgrade from the old day care. It has been a blessing, I think, for everybody.”
The first room inside is the nursery. Shannon Guinn, a staff member who primarily works in that room, said it’s at least double the size of the space in the home.
“This is night and day,” she said. “This room is huge. We have everything we need in here. We can close that door and be in this room all day long and never need for anything. We’ve got a refrigerator to keep bottles and stuff in. … We have six cribs. We have room to spread out. (The newborns) get to play. They sit up. We rock them every day. This is great.”
There currently are four newborns being served at the facility, and Stevens said if she adds another staff member, she can have eight babies in the room.
“We have a waiting list of ones that aren’t born yet that want to come here,” Guinn said.
Nearby is a common room with two tables that seat 10 kids apiece, storage cubbies and a television. There also is a kitchenette.
Then down a hallway, there are lockers lined on the right side with separate rooms for 2- and 3-year-olds on the left and a room for 4-year-olds at the end.
Each classroom has windows and its own door leading out to the playground.
The age levels were intermixed in the home, so the new location allows for separation. The ministry serves kids age 6 weeks to fifth grade from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Before- and after-school care is available.
The new building also is very secure with a two-door entrance that requires a key card, security cameras, locked doors, a locked playground and a tornado shelter in the basement.
Also, one of Blake Hackman’s classes at nearby Brownstown Central High School did all of the landscaping outside the building.
“Big thanks to everyone that has made this possible,” Stevens said. “From the building committee to the board members to church members that have made donations, friends and family of the day care, we couldn’t have done it without all of them. I just think it’s overall such a great thing and a blessing. To think of how many people we’re impacting is pretty awesome.”
Julie Lucas is on the child care ministry board, while her husband, James, served on the building committee.
She said it was great to see everyone come together to make the new building happen.
“This has been a vision ever since I’ve been on the board and before I came on the board,” she said. “People came together. It was definitely a blessing. God’s hand was definitely in it the whole way through. It was just like everything fell into place.”
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St. Peter’s Lutheran Child Care Ministry is at 421 W. Bridge St., Brownstown.
Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s open to children ages 6 weeks to 12 years, and before- and after-school care is available, too.
For information, contact Director Denise Stevens at 812-358-7034 or visit facebook.com/st.peterslutheranchildcareministry.