Bethlehem Center's Toddler Room
By Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, Senior Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference
Photo right: With plenty of room to play, a few children in the toddler room at Bethlehem Center sit together.
It has been almost a year since renovations to the Bethlehem Center in Jackson, MS made it possible for the center to create a toddler room. The Bethlehem Center is a United Methodist related institution serving low to moderate income families in the Jackson area. The center offers daily childcare and afterschool care.
Before the revamps, toddlers and infants shared one room which according state guidelines, only 13 children can occupy that space. The room was at capacity limiting the center from accepting more children. Mattie Johnson, executive director of the Bethlehem Center often thought about how the room next door to this area would be great for a toddler room. It was certainly large enough for them. However, to use it for this purpose, the center had to meet state requirements that call for running hot and colder water and a changing table in rooms where infants and toddlers are kept. The other factor was finding the money to make these changes and Johnson did.
Johnson said their blessing came in the form of the Mississippi Conference Connectional Ministries Mission Grants. These are matching grants available to United Methodist churches and United Methodist sponsored or related agencies in Mississippi. The Bethlehem Center received a gift of $1,750, giving them a total of $3,500 to spend on the project. In addition to installing a waterline and a changing table to the desired room, storage bins and two toddler tables with chairs were purchased.
"When we received the grant for this project, it was the best day for us because we can now separate the small infants from the toddlers who are all over the room and need room to learn and play. Thanks to the Mississippi Conference for the Mission Grant, it has been a blessing to us," said Johnson.
The infant and toddler rooms at the Bethlehem Center are at capacity. This is great news for the program grounded in the belief that each child is an individual with his or her own unique and specific gifts. The center provides academic, health and community programs within a spiritual context.
About Mission Grants
The Mississippi Conference Connectional Ministries Mission Grants are matching grants available to United Methodist churches and United Methodist sponsored or related agencies in Mississippi. Grants range from $500 to $2,500 per project, with one award of up to $10,000. They are awarded to form spiritual leaders, new places for new people, connections through existing congregations and engagement in ministry with the poor; therefore, living out the four Core Values of The POWER of We.
Follow The Circuit Rider for details on how to apply for the annual Mission Grants in the fall.