“Not every child has opportunity, but every child has potential.”
This year I became a mom. It’s one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences in my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My husband and I always knew we wanted to have kids and we’re lucky to have family and friends as a strong support system. So, when challenged by Geile/Leon to celebrate our 25 years by giving back, I chose an organization that offers support to many families with young children in the St. Louis area.
SouthSide Early Childhood Center, located at Russell Blvd. and Jefferson Ave. in south St. Louis, was founded in 1886 to provide low-income children a safe, nurturing and educational environment while their parents were at work – and this is still their focus 120 years later. As a fully licensed and accredited school, their mission is to nurture, educate and inspire children and families in a diverse and inclusive environment, promoting healthy development and a strong foundation for success.
SouthSide Early Childhood Center is not your typical daycare or preschool for children six weeks to pre-kindergarten. It’s truly an experience for a child that’s meant to break the cycle of poverty through early intervention and early childhood education. The school uses a whole-child approach, concentrating on everything from educational and developmental milestones, mental health, and the child’s health and nutrition. But, what truly differentiates SouthSide is that in addition to tackling all of the child’s needs, they also focus on the needs of the entire family. Whether it’s helping out in a job search, lending a hand during a rough month or offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, SouthSide stands by its families. The school understands that environment drives a child’s success in school and in adult life, so it’s imperative that the family is strong and supportive alongside the school.
With this said, the support the school offers to its families is not possible without the support of the St. Louis community and private fundraising. Tuition for three of every four children at Southside is subsidized by the government and United Way funding, but this doesn’t come close to covering the cost of all of the support the school provides – teachers with Bachelor’s degrees or higher, a full-time mental health professional, a mentor teacher, a family services division and a schedule that allows teachers time outside of the classroom to plan lessons, receive coaching and develop strategies. Because of the cost of these services, SouthSide Early Childhood Center is constantly connecting with folks in the area to get the word out about the school and its importance in the community. SouthSide is always accepting donations, volunteers and items on their wish list to help give the kids a nurturing place to learn and explore.
In the spirit of #GLSTL25 and because I believe in the SouthSide mission, I’m starting a drive to collect at least 25 items off of the school’s wish list, especially items for the infant room as I understand that the cost of diapers, formula and wipes can add up! If you’d like to help out these kids and the school, feel free to contact me via email at [email protected]. In addition, for volunteer opportunities at the school, contact Nathan Maul at 314-865-0322 or email [email protected].