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Dear Decaturish – Community stepped up to help daycare damaged by storm

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Dear Decaturish – Community stepped up to help daycare damaged by storm

Photo provided by JT Peifer

Photo provided by JT Peifer

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Dear Decaturish,

Amidst the chaos of Irma, I wanted to submit a positive community reaction to a damaged daycare center.

I’m extremely fortunate for my son to attend Grand Magnolia Early Learning center; a small, play-driven daycare with a 3:1 staff to child ratio partnered with Agnes Scott College in the City of Decatur. I’m a new parent who works from home, and until this point, have fed my son lunch every day—so letting go of unlimited proximity was very difficult. We all cried his first day he ran into the brightly lit welcome area; screaming with delight. Despite my sadness is passing this milestone, his immediate enthusiasm was reassuring. He loved Grand Magnolia from the start, and Dr. Summerville (the director) and her staff welcomed him and his boundless energy.

Unfortunately, early this week when Hurricane Irma tore its way through metro Atlanta, Grand Magnolia’s roof was struck with a 20 foot tree branch. Fortunately, the center was shut down for the day, and no one was hurt. However, the hole in the roof allowed water to damage much of the play area’s ceilings and walls, and the center has been closed for repairs. This was heartbreaking. My son loves Grand Magnolia, and I know that for a new enterprise—a closure this soon after opening can be devastating. Selfishly, I cannot think of a better place for my son, and I didn’t want to go elsewhere for care.

I didn’t have much time to mourn the center’s closing before the community responded. Partners and friends at Agnes Scott College jumped into action and hauled books, toys, and equipment out of the space, preventing further loss. A friend of Dr. Summerville’s launched a fundraiser that was retweeted by Jamelle Bouie (the Chief Political Correspondent of Slate) and in 24 hours over $10,000 was raised for the center. I’ve been a part of Kickstarer campaigns and event fundraisers, and I’ve never seen the upswell of community support that I saw for Grand Magnolia. I knew that this was a special place for my son, and it is comforting to see the community acknowledgement and support.

– JT Peifer

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