By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN With requests rising for the Bible-based daycare center and preschool, Lambs Christian Day Care and Preschool, formed by the congregation of Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church is undergoing an expansion.
The Christian daycare and preschool began in 2000, with JoAnn Onnen as the first teacher. Onnen felt the Sunday school rooms, which were only used weekly, didn’t have to sit empty during the week. Rather, they could be used to provide opportunities for children to learn their ABC’s, in addition to learning more about Jesus.
That message resonated well among parents in the community, resulting in a waiting list for the preschool and day care.
Tabitha Beckman, the preschool teacher for Lambs, said she feels bad having to turn parents down.
The way the daycare and preschool is set up now, there is only room for 13 children in a room.
In addition to space issues with the daycare, the congregation was also finding space conflicts throughout the church facility, explained Pastor Lyndon Korhonen. An overlap in ministries became apparent and there was not enough space to accommodate.
To alleviate the space issues, construction on a new addition began last fall. It will include expanded daycare and preschool rooms large enough to accommodate 20 children at one time.
There will also be a separate entrance on the south side of the building, as opposed to using the east entrance of the church.
The new addition will also include an auditorium and balcony for youth ministry and recreation.
Also, a member of the congregation insisted there be a storm shelter for the facility, which was built underground.
This was something Onnen said she is particularly grateful for after the recent devastating tornado in Oklahoma.
Currently, the facility the daycare is housed in now, only allows for licensure of up to 20 children.
However, the congregation recently approved applying for a licensure of up to 35 children, which, if approved by the state, would expand the program by 15 children.
“We’re thrilled,” Beckman said.
The goal is to have the new addition completed before the start of the school year in the fall.
The finishing touches remaining, include plumbing, doors, flooring, and bathroom fixtures, and are estimated to cost up to $50,000.
The congregation also approved bonding for the remaining costs to complete the project by fall.
The cost of expansion has been greatly reduced, thanks to labor and/or materials donated by parents of children attending the center. The estimated cost of savings is about $62,000.
Anyone interested in donating labor or money toward the completion of the project may do so by contacting the church at (320) 286-2861.