Trinity Presbyterian Daycare, an institution in Havelock for the last 40 years, is scheduled to close its doors for good at the end of the month.
"The daycare has kept thousands of children over the last 40 years," said Shirley Rogers, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church on Miller Boulevard. "We don’t have a choice except to close the daycare down."
Rogers said enrollment simply can’t keep up with increasing expenses.
"Over the last five years, there has been a downward trend in our enrollment," she said. "It has finally gotten to the point where our costs, which are very, very high, cannot be paid for because of our reduced enrollment. We can’t make enough money to pay our costs."
The daycare had 59 children from ages 6 weeks to 5 years enrolled last week. Meanwhile, there are 15 daycare employees, including teachers, office staff and a kitchen worker.
"Our costs go up every year," Rogers said. "Milk is more expensive than it was last year. Bread is more expensive. Vegetables are more expensive. Art paper is more expensive. Utilities are going up, and the costs of keeping the building just up to code, we just can’t afford them. That’s the bottom line."
Rogers said that payroll for the employees was about $30,000 every two weeks, and a $2,500 monthly electric bill for the daycare wasn’t unusual.
Competition from other corporate daycares in the area also has had an effect on the private center, she said.
"We’re not able to offer kids computerized learning," Rogers said. "And, we don’t have packaged curriculum, and those are things that parents are looking for these days. They want their children to start getting an education very, very early. We’re not able to provide those kinds of things."
Jim Elder was on the ground floor when the daycare got started 40 years ago. He said it opened when civilians working at Cherry Point learned they would no longer be permitted to use base daycare facilities. He said the base’s commanding general called the church and appealed for help.
"There was a pretty limited number of organizations in the city of Havelock at that time who could take care of those additional children, so we had an emergency meeting at the church to see what we could do," Elder said. "At that time, the manager of the daycare center on the base agreed to assist us in anyway she could and we got off the ground with a daycare center in three days."
As more parents began working, the need for early childhood daycare increased, leading to more facilities and more regulations, Elder said.
"We performed a necessary service at the time, and that time has passed," he said.
Rogers said that the church is considering alternative uses for the fellowship hall, eight classrooms, kitchen, two bathrooms and office space that are part of the facility.
"We would really like for that space to be used for some service that the citizens of Havelock need," Rogers said.
Among the possibilities are a night sleep shelter, a free clinic, a hot lunch service or a facility that would benefit at-risk children.
Meanwhile, the church has scheduled a special worship service celebrating the 40 years of the daycare beginning at 11 a.m. on June 2. Those who attended the daycare and parents who took their children to the center are invited. A lunch will be served after the service, but those attending are asked to bring a dish to share.
For more information on the event, call Trinity Presbyterian Daycare at 447-3758.