Zoos in Trenton and Newport, the Enchanted Forest in Dexter and Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft. All were within reach of the children at St. Mary’s Day Care Center in Bangor this past year thanks to a grant from NYNEX.
The $26,000 grant, proposed by New England Telephone employee Debbie DiPhilippo, was used by the center to buy a 15-passenger van. The grant was one of the first in Maine under the $6 million program intended to improve the quality and increase day care and elder care services available to employees of NYNEX companies.
St. Mary’s Day Care has grown steadily since its beginning five years ago in the old convent building on First Street. It began with 26 part-time and full-time children, ages 2-6. The younger children are the Puffins, and the older ones the Pandas.
By the next year, the classes had grown to 39 preschoolers, and had added a before- and after-school program.
For 2 1/2 years, the day-care center was housed in modular units behind the church on Ohio Street until the new Parish Center could be built.
Director Kathryn Jovanelli, who works with a staff of four and two Foster Grandparents, was very pleased to have the center receive the NYNEX grant. “The addition of the van has enriched our child care programs by enabling us to plan field trips for the different age groups,” she said.
The day-care center moved into the new St. Mary’s Parish Center in February of this year. The facility also houses St. Mary’s School, religious education offices and programs, conference rooms and space for other groups.
“Our license has been increased to 48 children from ages 2 1/2 up through 16 years,” Jovanelli said.
“What makes us special, in my opinion, are several things,” she said. “First is our desire to retain quality staff by offering excellent benefits and competitive wages. We have had a remarkably low staff turnover compared to the national, or even local averages. This gives children a sense of continuity and stability in their lives that is so important at this, or any age level.”
Jovanelli said that she has found the staff of both the church and the school to be very supportive and caring, as is the parish community.
For information on the center’s services, call 941-9585.