Holy Shenanigans

Gratitude Matters: Part 3 - A Place for the Child

November 28, 2023 Tara Lamont Eastman Season 4 Episode 41
Gratitude Matters: Part 3 - A Place for the Child
Holy Shenanigans
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Holy Shenanigans
Gratitude Matters: Part 3 - A Place for the Child
Nov 28, 2023 Season 4 Episode 41
Tara Lamont Eastman

Part 3 of HSP's #gratitudematters series features and interview with Mary T. MacDonald (founder of A Children's Place) and current director, Molly Hanft,
of A Children's Place Daycare.

Mary shares the amazing origin story of the longest running daycare, housed in First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown, as Molly tells of how the program has continued to grow for over 50 years.

A Children's Place Daycare is currently holding a fundraiser, "A Place For The Child":
to purchase new napping cots. The daycare and preschool hosts 55 children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, Monday-Friday from 7:30 am - 5:30 pm.

We are so grateful to Mary and Molly for their work to care for children, keep them safe and help them grow.

To learn more visit:
A Children's Place Daycare/Preschool
Phone: 716-487-2238
Email

(Click Red Text to visit the church website)
A Children's Place is housed at First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown, NY

To make a contribution to, "A Place For The Child" Cot Fundraiser - Click here or call the church office at: (716) 487-1984

Send Tara a Text Message

Wild Goose Festival is a transformational community grounded in faith-inspired social justice. Wherever we come together we learn and grow by co-creating art, music, story, theater, and spectacle, engaging in a wide variety of robust, courageous conversations with each other and with thought leaders and artists from other communities. Listeners of Holy Shenanigans Podcast can use the discount code a-tle24 for a $50 discount off the price of an adult weekend ticket!


Support the Show.

Pastor Tara Lamont Eastman is an Ordained Minister of Word & Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has pastored ELCA and PCUSA churches throughout New York State. She was a contributing writer to the Collaborate Lutheran Student Bible and the Connect Sunday School curriculum, published by Sparkhouse.

Show Notes Transcript

Part 3 of HSP's #gratitudematters series features and interview with Mary T. MacDonald (founder of A Children's Place) and current director, Molly Hanft,
of A Children's Place Daycare.

Mary shares the amazing origin story of the longest running daycare, housed in First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown, as Molly tells of how the program has continued to grow for over 50 years.

A Children's Place Daycare is currently holding a fundraiser, "A Place For The Child":
to purchase new napping cots. The daycare and preschool hosts 55 children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, Monday-Friday from 7:30 am - 5:30 pm.

We are so grateful to Mary and Molly for their work to care for children, keep them safe and help them grow.

To learn more visit:
A Children's Place Daycare/Preschool
Phone: 716-487-2238
Email

(Click Red Text to visit the church website)
A Children's Place is housed at First Presbyterian Church of Jamestown, NY

To make a contribution to, "A Place For The Child" Cot Fundraiser - Click here or call the church office at: (716) 487-1984

Send Tara a Text Message

Wild Goose Festival is a transformational community grounded in faith-inspired social justice. Wherever we come together we learn and grow by co-creating art, music, story, theater, and spectacle, engaging in a wide variety of robust, courageous conversations with each other and with thought leaders and artists from other communities. Listeners of Holy Shenanigans Podcast can use the discount code a-tle24 for a $50 discount off the price of an adult weekend ticket!


Support the Show.

Pastor Tara Lamont Eastman is an Ordained Minister of Word & Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has pastored ELCA and PCUSA churches throughout New York State. She was a contributing writer to the Collaborate Lutheran Student Bible and the Connect Sunday School curriculum, published by Sparkhouse.

Tara: [00:00:00] Hi there friends of holy shenanigans podcast. This is pastor Tara Lamont Eastman, and we have a very special conversation today to share with you as we wrap up this season of focusing on gratitude practices.

Tara: And I want to tell you all about a children's place, which is the daycare and the jump ahead program at First Presbyterian [00:01:00] Church in Jamestown, New York, and we have with us. Wonderful guests today. We have Mary McDonald, who really was the founder and the visionary for a children's place quite a few years ago.

Tara: And then we also have Molly Hanna, who is the current director of a children's place here at first press in Jamestown, New York. So there's lots of questions I have about a children's place, but I know that it is said to be the oldest. Daycare in Jamestown, 

Mary: yes. Yes.

Tara: Wow. Okay. So this is a lot of, clearing a path and being forerunners with great vision. So Mary, I just wondered. You know, I'm very grateful, just to say, for the work that you started with the Children's Place. And I know that there are so many families throughout the years and, children that are very grateful for the, work that you had and the vision you had for this.

Tara: And [00:02:00] so I just kind of wondered, where did you get your inspiration to do this work?

Mary: When I had my child, my parents were a lot older and I had relatives, I had never seen a baby before

Tara: Wow.

Mary: then I had one.

Mary: So I fell madly in love with her, of course. And. We didn't have a lot of children in the neighborhood , and she just loved to learn all the time. Literally, she would come teach me something new, teach me something new. And so I did, 

Mary: I remember by the time she was four. I Taught her to read little sentences because people's brains growing until the age of six. So they have so much capacity to learn. And what a wonderful time to be able to, teach anything, but give experiences to children.

Mary: So anyway, my, little girl who I could give you all of her little things that I learned from Montessori, but without going into that she needed friends. And she didn't have any friends. And I [00:03:00] somehow ended up talking to a lovely woman with the Chamber of Commerce. And she gave me a little yellow booklet.

Mary: And the little yellow booklet said, New New York State Licensed Daycare Center. You no longer can have a child in someone's home more than two and a half hours, two and a half days a week. And blah, blah, blah, all these list of things. And it was a lot. And I didn't know. Better than to just follow that list because , I wasn't in business.

Mary: I didn't know about negotiating and asking for favors or anything. , it says this to do it. So, I had to get a child psychologist. I had to learn about the school lunch program. And the Presbyterian Church in Jamestown had just built the whole wing that had all the study school classrooms in it and the small chapel. Again, I was naive, so I can't believe

Mary: I went and I talked to the pastor and said, well what are you doing with these rooms all week long? I have an idea. So there was all these classrooms and a commercial [00:04:00] kitchen and playground outdoors.

Mary: But the point is, it just started because my, little girl needed friends and an opportunity to continue to grow and learn. 

Tara: I think that's a wonderful origin story to learn a little bit more about a children's place. And as we talk, if we abbreviate and we say ACP, that stands for a children's place for the folks that are listening. So when the program began, Mary what was it like, like how many kids were in the program?

Mary: We only had maybe a half a dozen children. We did get a lot of publicity and children kept coming and coming and coming, but it started very small. .

Tara: What did you do?

Mary: Sesame Street had just begun. It was brand new. So we got to have a television in the room. So when the children came in in the morning, they got to watch Sesame Street. And that was a great way to begin the day because it was full of learning. 

Mary: Thanksgiving I thought Thanksgiving isn't as fun. So I went out and I bought little Cornish hens, little tiny [00:05:00] Cornish hens. And I let the children come down into the commercial kitchen and everybody got washed up and kept aprons on and everything. And I let them make the stuffing. And I let them stuff the little Cornish hens. They were just so delighted. And so then, while they were being roasted they got dressed up and they put on little aprons or whatever, and we set the table with all these nice things. We had a pumpkin in the center of the table, and I had brought in, linens and things like that.

Mary: So we made a whole beautiful little Thanksgiving thing with gourds. And they each had their own Cornish hen. And it was, it was really magical. These children probably hadn't had an opportunity to cook or prepare something so they were constantly learning things. , that was the best part. We just kept having more and more experiences. And that was really fun.

 

Tara: Oh, that's a wonderful memory and probably something that you're really proud of. I mean, [00:06:00] there's a lot to be proud of when I think about the scope of what you took on, for your own child, but also for other children to. Go to the state and figure out what was needed to be done to have, , a safe and educational space for young children to navigate talking to church leadership and, you know, in the 1970s to navigate this and say, Hey, this is something that is needed in the world.

Tara: I think there's an awful lot for you to be proud of Mary.

Mary: thank you. Thank

Tara: I just want to thank you for, you know, taking up the that you saw that other people didn't quite see yet.

Mary: You just can't imagine how naive I was. I just really didn't know anything. So I just kept doing it

Tara: Kept trying. Yeah.

Mary: The church was really wonderful because of the fellowship and all, but all of the people around us that we touched, even , the psychiatrist who we had to have on call, they were all very supportive of the whole program.

Tara: That's awesome. [00:07:00] So hi, Molly. I'm wondering, as you've heard Mary tell the story of ACP's beginning, what is your response?

Molly: Well, first of all, I'm incredibly grateful for you, Mary, because you are a pioneer. You paved the way for hundreds and hundreds of kids to receive. Love and a safe place and education. But more than that, I mean, the impact that you've had in the entire community. We really don't have a ton of daycare providers around here and the fact that we're still standing and going strong and growing is incredible.

Molly: And that wouldn't be the case if you never had that idea. So we appreciate you so much. Thank you. As for ACP Now we're up to 55 kids having grown from five children, so that's pretty remarkable. We have two UPK programs that [00:08:00] are through Jamestown Public Schools, and we have five additional classrooms on top of that.

Molly: So we serve children from six weeks to five years old. But I have to say, you've come up in conversation because people still remember you church members. Yes. I mean, have the memories of when you were creating this, that would eventually have a life of its own, you know?

Molly: So I hope, you know, your legacy still carries, but I'm honored to be able to carry the torch for now. And privileged, really, because this is the best job ever. 

Mary: I Don't think there were degrees in early childhood education then, there are more people who are certainly more educated than I was, like yourself I mean, I can't imagine you handling children from six weeks to six years.

Mary: That's a whole different

Molly: Yeah. There is certainly an array of learning for us, but also [00:09:00] finding people where this is their niche, you know, so we have people in the infant room and that's their wheelhouse, totally different from five years old, but everything that we do, we incorporate play. So play is our number one form of learning to get messy to go on the playground, you know Get outside, do all the things, but yeah, certainly a huge range.

Mary: I'm so impressed that you can have , that many Children with the different ages it's so totally different. It's just, so much more complex than anything that. I had anything to do with. congratulations. Thank you for keeping us alive.

Tara: So Mary, , as we think about gratitude all this month here at Holy shenanigans can you think of something that you are most grateful for in your experience of pioneering and starting a children's place?

Mary: Certainly I have a lot of gratitude for the ministry [00:10:00] and everything that the Presbyterian Church did for this. I mean, they didn't just give us real estate. They, organized it. They helped fund it. Just the attitude of the fellowship that the church was open to everybody.

Mary: We had one boy that was a little older and much bigger than most of the other children, and he had a single mom. And in those days in Jamestown, New York, nobody had a single mom, you know. And she was so grateful of how we brought him in and included him into everything. And she just said it totally changed his life.

Mary: And so when we have parents saying this about their children, it's... , it's full of gratitude and it's for the church, the fellowship.

Tara: That's wonderful. 

Molly: So I just have to say, being housed inside of First Presbyterian Church creates this huge rich history that I didn't Even quite no [00:11:00] existed. I mean, after digging through the paperwork and the photos and the newspaper clippings, having conversations with people, everybody has a story. Everybody has a memory and it goes so far back, but being able to talk to you, Mary firsthand on the origins, how this started is uh, we're blessed to be able to even have this conversation right now.

Molly: And pastor Tara, for you letting us. Exist here. You know, we have so much support, so we're so grateful, but , our purpose here now and our mission is to, , educate and help them thrive and hit their developmental milestones. But also like you were saying, we are a safe place. Those children know when they come in the door that we love them and a resource for parents for anything that they need.

Molly: So we try to cover all bases, but we are looking, into , grants and things like that, which I am also new to, but I'm not afraid if you could do it. So [00:12:00] we're working on expanding even getting quiet zones and sensory spaces to meet the needs of the kids now with technology and everything the way that it is.

Molly: We're finding a lot of overstimulation so trying to bring it back down finding peace and helping kids regulate on top of thriving. So we keep on growing and we keep on changing with the needs that we see.

Tara: THat's wonderful to hear how this legacy is continuing and how this partnership has just continued to grow over the years.

Molly: It's inspiring.

Tara: It is. And Molly, who are the people that ACP serves? Could you say a little bit more about the children and the families? I mean, anonymously, but

Molly: So luckily through New York state, we were able to get childcare subsidy money, so we don't turn people away if they cannot pay. So we have a huge range of children coming from all walks of life., six weeks to five [00:13:00] years. That's a pretty big span. They learn at this very early age how to create bonds with other kids, how to socialize, how to include each other, what that looks like when you're three, four years old, and they don't know any different other than this is my friend, and we're all here together.

Molly: And we're learning how to coexist and it's really beautiful. Someday, Mary, I hope you come to visit and see this firsthand.

Mary: I would love to. 

Tara: Molly, you and I've been talking a little bit about some of the needs of ACP and what resources are needed for 55 kids. Every single day, Monday through Friday, we've determined that, having that cozy and comfy nap space, is very important because it is a long day.

Tara: And so one of the things that we've been fundraising for, as we get ready for Advent. Is the cots or, you know, cozy things to help the kids have that rest space that they need. And we started to dub this a [00:14:00] place for the child.

Molly: That is one thing that that we definitely do need.

Molly: All but one of our rooms takes naps. That's the majority of our program. And each cot is about 75, so it's pricey. We're making do with what we have, but we certainly could use an upgrade. They have gotten more than their fair share of use each cot, so we're ready for new cots, that's for sure. 

Tara: If folks are interested in contributing to this COT effort, for our children here at ACP. Molly, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?

Molly: My name is Molly Haniff, H A N like Nancy, F like Frank, T like Tom. My email is molly at acpdaycare. com and our phone number is 716 487 2238. So feel free to email or call anytime. You know, somebody's here from 730 to 530 every day. 

Tara: Yes. aNd we [00:15:00] plan to create a children's place Christmas tree and have tags on there. So if people want to take a tag if you're walking through the building, on a Sunday morning for worship, you can take a tag and make a contribution to our cot. Drive and so I think that that is just wonderful way for us to live into the season of Advent as we prepare for the coming of Christ.

Tara: That we prepare also and be hospitable to our children here at ACP and their families continue that legacy of hospitality.

Molly: I love that. 

Tara: So Molly, what are you most grateful for in your work? You've said a lot about all you love in your work with ACP, but today, as you think about the scope of Mary and the work that was started, as you think about your day to day here at First Press. What are you grateful for today?

Molly: It has been eye opening to see the impact because I'm talking to adults who spent their childhood [00:16:00] here. So I am so grateful to be part of the impact to create the bonds. To create the trust for the kids somewhere they love being. And I love that the parents trust us enough to love their kids.

Molly: So I am most grateful for the impact that we can have in this community. It's really grateful. And that's because of you, Mary. So thank you so much for starting this.

Mary: take credit for all of that. But I, guess I thank God that somehow these things, whether it be hospitality, Fellowship that I would have even thought of such a thing, you know and that is part of, who we are. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to be able to imagine all of this. Although maybe I didn't imagine all of what you're doing right now, but yeah, just to imagine the entire program and how it could be put together in so many different ways. And just what does for all the children and for the [00:17:00] parents. are very grateful for all you do as well.

Tara: It's a beautiful conversation today. To be able to talk with. a Founder of a mission to serve Children and to make them feel safe and help them to learn , and then to have the conversation with the current director over 50 years later, , it's an amazing opportunity.

Tara: And I hope as folks listen, they can hear our wonderment at the fact that we're all here together today. I usually share a blessing but I was thinking of a song I wrote a while ago when I was wrestling with a sense of place and came to the understanding that hospitality and home is something that we can carry within us as children of God, as children of the divine.

Tara: That sense of belovedness and home is something that travels within our vessels as people. And then we extend it [00:18:00] out into the world. And so this is the chorus of the song. If you don't mind, if I sing it for you, it goes like this. Oh, rest safe. True is the place. We try to

Tara: save true is the place we travel to. And so as our children travel here to first present a children's place every day for the travels, Mary, that you are on now in your work in hospitality. In the work that you are taking on as a member of Rye Presbyterian, blessings to you. And thank you for making the time for being here with us today.

Tara: And for you, [00:19:00] Molly, blessings to you and all of the travels and all of the learning that you have already had and all of the mountains already conquered, May we know that we all have an opportunity to share a sense of hospitality with another person every single day. Thank you all so much for being here for this up.

Molly: I appreciate that and thank you so much, Mary. We are so grateful for 

Mary: you,

Mary: for inviting me. This is, I'm so happy I'm visiting not only Jamestown, New York, but a children's place. Very special. Thank you.

Tara: So for those that are listening please take a look at the website for First Presbyterian Jamestown, New York, and also a children's place. If you look them up, they also have their own website. Molly, what is that?

Molly: Www. acpdaycare. com

Tara: Terrific. So if you want to know more about a place for our children, as well as our cot drive, that'll be leading us into the Advent [00:20:00] season, please reach out to us. And if you didn't get that information, we'll be sure to put it in the notes for this episode. Until next time, holy shenanigans listeners, may you be well, may you be at peace and know that you are always beloved.

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