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Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award 1998

Palco United Methodist Church

1998 Winner
Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award

The story of Palco United Methodist Church's PUMKids Patch Day Care appropriately parallels a favorite children's story- The Little Engine That Could.

As a small United Methodist Church with a membership of 96 and an annual operating budget of just $44,000, the church saw a need and an opportunity to serve its rural community in a new way. The community had no licensed day care for children and the church had space in its facility that might be used to fill this gap with some renovation and the purchase of equipment and materials.

There were many challenges and concerns that may have stopped an organization with less commitment to its mission. Palco United Methodist Church met each challenge with sensitivity to church membership and persistence in achieving its goal. Today, the church provides the only licensed day care in its area, serving more than 37 children, including infants, in a supportive Christian environment. Semi-annual health screenings for children and parenting workshops are also provided as part of this effort.

With a two-year Health Ministry Fund grant of $25,835, PUMKids Patch Day Care was born in September of 1996. The church provided the needed space and paid for utilities. A congregational family pledged a maintenance fund deposit of $1,000 to cover building damages and maintenance costs. The Wednesday Night Gathering worship service made a weekly offering to the center. Church members donated equipment and supplies. Fund raising events were hosted.

The center opened with 12 children and steadily grew to full enrollment. Many adjustments fine-tuned the operation to achieve a sustainable program while maintaining accessibility to quality child care.

The story may best be told through parent surveys that give the program exceptionally high marks; community cooperation that enhances the program with transportation, food service, story hour, and parent education workshops; and a growing sense of ownership from church members.

Much of the credit for the success of PUMKids Patch Day Care goes to the Day Care Committee, the voice of the church saying "I think we can...I think we can...I think we can..." Palco United Methodist Church proved it could, indeed.

Thanks to the efforts of the church, PUMKids Patch Day Care provides rural access to vital family support services. Because of the "little church that could," quality child care, preventive health care for children, and parent education is now available in southwest Rooks County.

Palco United Methodist Church representatives: Reverend Pat Ault-Duell, Pastor; Lisa Last, Day Care Committee Chairperson; Tammy McClellan, Committee Member; Jill Aldridge, Committee Member; Carol Steeples, Committee Member; and Pam Rudman, PUMKids Patch Day Care Director.

Awarded May 12, 1999

Learn more about the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award