The YMCA, with some help from a local church, is reopening a day care facility that closed its doors summer 2020.
Little House Academy was put up for sale, and the Georgia Mountains YMCA jumped on the opportunity.
Cassandra Whisnant, director of the learning centers program at the YMCA, said it was crucial to them to keep the facility running as a day care as several in the area had closed following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We, as an organization, aspire to make sure all of our programs are available to all interested people in our service area, and we wanted to be able to provide quality child care for the North Hall area,” she said.
The YMCA bought the center in December. Staff and board members alike spent months working to renovate, with plans to be up to 85% capacity by summer 2022.
After months of work and planning, the YMCA applied to be a beneficiary of First Baptist Church of Gainesville’s charity emporium shopping event to gain some extra support. When they were chosen as the beneficiary, tears were shed according to emporium co-chair Lynn DeVries.
“They applied to be a beneficiary, so we saw them and all. It was a hands-down yes, that’s who we’ve got to help and reach these people,” DeVries said.
Members of the church’s men's ministry quickly got to work at the facility to place new floors, install a new storage area and repaint the walls. Within six days, the Georgia Pre-K room was renovated.
“It was like a force of nature to watch them work,” Whisnant said.
All the benefits from the church’s emporium this year will go to the YMCA’s learning center, and Whisnant said their efforts will help get the word out for the new center and allow them to serve more families in the community.
This will be the First Baptist’s 15th annual emporium for charity. It starts at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 24, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, and will be at First Baptist's banquet hall.
The event will have around 50 vendors selling items including clothing, jewelry, books, decor and art. Skogies will also be selling food to go for those who attend.
“We did have to cancel it last year because of the pandemic, but we’re back this year and we’re just wanting folks to know to come out and enjoy,” DeVries said. Masks will be available and required, along with social distancing. First Baptist is also hoping to set up a vaccination site during the event.
Tickets to the emporium are $5 per person and free for children younger than 10. They will be available at the door or during business hours at the church.
To follow along with updates and for more information, visit fbcgainesville.org.