At the open house and celebration of Boone Beginnings in Albion on November 7, I realized something: I miss the power of celebrating the completion of a major community project.
As a former economic development director, I experienced the opportunities of seeing projects through from ideation to completion. Sure, there may be setbacks and budget overruns, naysayers, nimby (not in my backyard) and cave (citizens against virtually everything) folks. But on the other side, there are the true community champions—those who recognize a community need and set out in a collaborative fashion to address it.
In Boone County and Albion, that need was more accessible, high-quality child care. Just over four years ago they decided to do something about it.
The result is Boone Beginnings, a state-of-the-art facility offering quality early care and learning for up to 80 children, providing our future workforce the strong start they need while helping parents meet work obligations and provide for their families. The structure, with natural light and wooden accents throughout the space, is a modern mix of nature and practicality with inviting spaces for young kids to gather and explore.
During the open house and tour nearly 200 community members learned about the project, experienced the excitement of the undertaking and heard about the collaboration and drive it took to get the project completed.
They heard about how $4.5 million were raised—enough for the initial construction and an endowment that will help with future operational costs. They heard how this money was raised locally, with over 250 gifts, 80% given from folks with local ties. And how when a community challenge match of $500,000 was offered, Boone Beginnings was able to meet that match in just two months with new financial commitments.
Throughout the day there were smiles, handshakes and applause—all in recognition of a job well done. Not to mention the look of relief and recognition from many of the project organizers who experienced the blood, sweat and tears of seeing Boone Beginnings through the end—and the facility’s new beginning.