In February 2020, Marsha Lautenschlager with the Little Miracles Board came to our Economic Development meeting to inform us that the Methodist Church was no longer able to provide a daycare center. She strongly urged us to look at this as a community and felt that if it was a full community effort, a daycare center could survive in Doniphan. The Doniphan Economic Development Board agreed that we should play a role in discovery and be the voice to start the conversation to keep a daycare facility in Doniphan.
A friend of mine, Rene Blauhorn, and attorney from Palmer Nebraska recently went through a similar struggle in her community so we began by having meetings with her to build a blue print of what it would look like for us to structure a community-based daycare. They were able to create a sub-board under their Community Foundation allowing them to be part of a non-profit entity. They developed numerous fundraising efforts, gained support from grants, and received money from the community also.
I then began reaching out to people in the community to see if there was interest in being on a board to create a daycare. I wanted specific skillsets to give us a vast base of knowledge to guide us through the whole process. Jamie Clemens was the first to commit. She is a CPA at AMGL in Grand Island and a community member. Teresa Luther also joined in and is a retired District Court Judge in Hall county. Holly Wood is a Branch Manager at Cornerstone Bank in Grand Island and also ran her own in-home daycare for 19 years.
We then began to meet, go over Palmers budgets and past P&L from Little Miracles to develop our own budget. I also worked with the Methodist Church on an arrangement to use the existing facility.
At this point, our efforts became public with the help of the Doniphan Herald. In the article, I asked if there was anyone else interested in helping our board, to contact me. The response was overwhelming and I gained three new members of our board expanding our skillsets. Stephanie Roach who is employed by Doniphan Trumbull School and serves on the Doniphan School Board, Angela Reimers who is employed at CFSS at Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and Kelly Petersen who is an Associate Public Guardian, for the State of Nebraska, Nebraska Office of Public Guardian.
We all met and began the process of getting this off the ground. Unable to structure under the Doniphan Community Foundation due to its connection with the Grand Island Community Foundation, we went to the Doniphan Economic Board to structure under their entity. The board voted in favor allowing us to be part of their non-profit status.
Jamie Clemens prepared a budget and it was decided at our meeting that we wanted to have 6 months of operating and an additional $20,000 raised before opening the new facility, affectionately named, The Little Cardinals, or TLC. This brought us to our fundraising goal of $62,000.00. We are actively working on a grant from the DHHS specific to new centers totaling $10,000. We also have an anonymous donor that has committed to matching $4,000.00. To meet the match, it was decided to begin a fundraiser effort of selling Doniphan Discount Cards. We went to the local businesses in town and asked them to offer a special deal to those who showed them the card. Their response was very supportive and some even offered a cash donation on top of offering a deal. We have a goal to sell 200 of these cards at $20.00 each bringing us to the $4,000.00 mark. This gives us a total of $18,000.
We received $22,000 from the Doniphan Keno fund to help get this going in the community.
I have had many community members ask me, why are you taking this on? What do you personally hope to gain from it? When I hear these questions the only thing that comes to mind is the pictures of the graduating classes of Doniphan in the foyer of the main entrance of the school. My grandparents, mother, father, brother, myself, my nephews, and next year, my own daughter will be in there. I know there are many community members that can say the same thing. My nephews and my daughter attended Little Miracles and I hope someday they come back to this community to raise their family. However, if we lose services that the community once offered, they will be less likely to come back to continue the legacy of so many other generations of Doniphan families.