From bottom left, Serenity Johnson, 3, instructor Alisha Sligh, Owen Kruse, 3, and Taeler Gilmer, 3, play at Toledo Day Nursery. The nonprofit nursery began in 1871 and has three sites in the city.
Toledo Day Nursery is looking for a little help from its friends.
Make that its alumni.
The nonprofit child-care program, founded in 1871, wants to establish an alumni group to support the center through fund-raising efforts, volunteer work, and telling others about what it has to offer.
“I want to share their stories,” Executive Director Pat Scheuer said. “I want to be able to tell the community about the adults that are successful in Toledo who got their start at Toledo Day Nursery.”
The nursery needs help locating adults who attended as children. About 15 years ago, a volunteer cleaning out a storage area threw out boxes of records that included enrollment and other historical documents, Mrs. Scheuer said.
The nursery’s existing enrollment records go back only about 20 to 25 years.
The program runs three child-care locations, two sites on Jefferson Avenue and one on Stickney Avenue, and serves about 80 children from 6 weeks old up to kindergarten. It is Ohio’s oldest child-care program, one established to care for children of parents who are working, Mrs. Scheuer said.
More than 140 years later, its mission is to serve working and student parents.
At play are Sheron Waters, 4, left, Aaron Leafgren, 5, and Loren King, 3. The nursery received the top state rating for child-care.
Many of the parents are single, working mothers, including families who qualify for child-care funds from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Those who aren’t eligible for that funding pay according to a sliding-fee scale based on family income.
This year’s operating budget is roughly $1.1 million, about half of which comes from public-funding sources and parent fees.
The United Way of Greater Toledo, a longtime supporter, covers nearly a quarter of the budget, or $265,860 this funding year, according to Karen Mathison, United Way president and chief executive officer.
The nursery looks to grants and fund-raising efforts and events to help meet its budget, which has been crimped by dwindling public funding. Mrs. Scheuer said the center needs to raise about $300,000 this year. She said many local nonprofit organizations compete for gifts from the same donors.
“You’re just always looking for a new way that you might generate some interest,” Mrs. Scheuer said.
Ms. Mathison said one reason United Way contributes to the nursery is because of its reputation for providing quality care. The nursery achieved the highest state rating for child-care programs.
At one of the Jefferson Avenue sites, colorful artwork and children’s self-portraits made from yarn and construction paper decorate the walls. A group of children sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider” on Thursday, while others ate a snack of crackers and cheese.
Don Zierolf of Creating Young Readers reads with Demarko Huntley III, 3, at Toledo Day Nursery.
Mrs. Scheuer pointed out binders stuffed full of information chronicling the developmental achievements of each child.
“This is far more than baby-sitting,” she said.
Sheronda Jackson, a mother of a 4-year-old, agrees. She initially planned to send her son to a home-based child-care service while she worked at her job as a phlebotomist. She changed her mind after visiting the nursery. She said she likes that her son brings home lots of art projects and that the nursery teaches manners and other things.
“The friendliness of the staff, they made me feel comfortable,” Ms. Jackson said.
Mrs. Scheuer hopes that with help from alumni, more people will learn about the nursery.
“I’d like to have pictures and success stories and just keep in touch,” she said.
Interested alumni can contact the nursery by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Vanessa McCray at: email@example.com or 419-724-6065.