PHOENIXVILLE — For 25 years, Mom’s House provided free day care from the old Sacred Heart sanctuary on the 100 block of Church Street to the children of single parents looking to continue their educations.
In the late winter this year, however, staffers and volunteers at the non-profit began to get the feeling that they were in for a change.
“In February, we heard the rumor Sacred Heart was closing,” said Dotty Frey, the program director at Mom’s House. “By April, we decided we had to be proactive.”
Mom’s House is open to any single parents who need help looking after their children while they pursue whatever education it is they’re seeking, whether on the high school, vocational, GED or college level. Diapers, food, wipes and other things necessary for watching children are provided at no cost to the parent other than their dedication to two hours of community service per week.
In looking for a new space to serve those demanding functions, Frey came across Adam DeVeney at a Kiwanis Club event.
“He said he thought he could help,” Frey said.
Months later, Mom’s House is out of the old sanctuary building and moved into the space behind First Presbyterian Church on the 100 block of South Main Street.
DeVeney helped bring Mom’s House into a space formerly occupied by Stepping Stones, another child care program that got too big for the church hall building and moved to Franklin Commons.
Frey said the move required some professional movers for heavier objects like the organization’s desks, but the single parents and their families showed up and helped move a lot of the things, along with students who regularly volunteer from the Phoenixville Area School District.
The new building is much larger and allows for more children to enter the program, Frey said.
In their old building, the state only licensed Mom’s House to have 12 children. Now, at the First Presbyterian building, they can watch after up to 22.
Although they’re not at capacity yet, Frey anticipates it growing.
There are two classrooms set up for two age groups of the children they watch.
One room is for infants and babies up to 2 years old. That will be at capacity in early October with seven children in the carpeted room outfitted with three high chairs, four cribs, and a changing table.
Frey said they have one paid teacher assigned to that room but she doesn’t “think we’ll be able to keep that (to just) one in there for long.”
The other room, decorated with bright colors and filled with doll houses and other toys, is for children that are too young for school. Two teachers are assigned to them there, including
“It’s bigger and we can stretch out,” said Patty Rhoton, one of the teachers there.
In the open area of the hall, where parents would drop their children off, a plastic slide and play set sitting on spongy pads stands in the corner.
“We don’t have a playground here,” like at the old building, Frey said. “So we got this for the kids.”
At an open house Thursday, screaming, laughing kids jumped around on the padding and flew down the slide, their parents munching on fruit and crackers and watching.
In the back, where there is an open office space for the Mom’s House staff, is an area outfitted with a computer where the single parents can do some studying.
In addition to the three paid teachers and Frey, there is also a financial director, rounding out the paid staff at Mom’s House at five.
But volunteers, all with the proper clearances, help make everything run as smoothly as possible.
“The program couldn’t exist without them,” Frey said.
Some students from programs in the Phoenixville Area School District, Montgomery County Community College and West Chester University help out. The Key Club and the Philanthropy Club in the Phoenixville Area School District have been extremely helpful and have formed a partnership with Mom’s House, Frey said.
In addition to the students, some other women help out as well.
“I would say all of them are professionals: teachers, nurses, guidance counselors,” Frey said. “They’re all who worked with children in the past and really love children.”
“For the most part,” the shift to the new building and the partnership with the church has gone well, Frey said. She said there has been some reluctance because of the newness of the situation, but she didn’t seem to believe there would be any lingering issues.
Danielle Poloway, a nursing student who has benefitted from the program for about a year, approves of the new building, as does her two-and-a-half-year-old son Dominik.
“He loves it. I love it,” she said. “There’s more space for them to play and learn.”
Before she got her son into the program, Poloway was working as a dental assistant and heard about Mom’s House from someone there.
“I lost my mom to cancer when I was pregnant,” she said. “I feel like I’m dropping him off at my mom’s house when I leave him here.”
Mom’s House is as much about the young parents involved as it is the children. Frey, a former teacher in the York area joined Mom’s House four years ago.
“I felt that not only did this give me the opportunity to do what I love, which is teach, but it’s also wonderful to watch these young mothers grow and succeed,” she said.
With photos of the young women and their children adorning many parts of the new office area, the dedication to Mom’s House’s beneficiaries is clear.
With a new building through First Presbyterian, Mom’s House has the room it needs to grow and succeed, as well.
This story originall appeared on www.pottsmerc.com.