Happy Workers day care wins $10,000 grant
By DEBORAH HIRSCH
ST. PETERSBURG -- Toddlers zoom around the playground on red tricycles, climb on the jungle gyms and ask for pushes on the swings. It's afternoon play time at Happy Workers Children's Center.
Donations are largely responsible for enriching the lives of the 150 children at the center, many of whom receive financial aid to attend the 19th Street S day care.
On Thursday, the center accepted a $10,000 grant through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. It will be used to improve an early literacy program and initiate a mentoring project between Happy Workers teachers and the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College.
The grant is the first in the Community Foundation's Philanthropy in Action program, created this year to stimulate involvement in local community service, said Deborah Baxter, public information director.
After being asked to participate in the program, ASPEC members voted on Happy Workers to receive a grant and worked with the center to decide how the money would be used.
Through the "Friend to Friend" project, ASPEC volunteers will provide teachers with support in their careers and overall life situations.
"It's just to have an older friend, someone who had succeeded and could offer them their experiences," said Virginia Irving, the day care's director. About 15 ASPEC volunteers have met with Happy Workers' 22 staff members to see how the teachers would benefit from activities such as retreats, trips to museums, concerts or seminars.
Grant money will be used to subsidize these activities and for incentive awards to help reduce staff turnover, increase attendance and reward good work.
To encourage parents to read to their children, some of the grant money will be used to purchase new books for the "Read to Your Bunny" literacy program. The children will be able to take home bags filled with books and exchange them every few weeks.
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