After nearly two years of delays and countless hours spent shuttling between contractors, loan officers and building inspectors, Charlene Meyers is breathing a sigh of relief. Her new daycare service, Mom’s Care, held its grand opening on Saturday, June 21.
Meyer’s daycare, located in the former Carlisles of Pittsburgh building at 409 E. Ohio St., already has nine children, but will hopefully expand, Meyer’s says, to its capacity of 26. With three full-time employees and a bus service to boot, the daycare is more than ready for an increase in business.
After 19 years running a daycare out of her home, Myers was ready to open her own professional daycare on a separate site.
“I desired to have my own daycare for about 10 years. I looked for other buildings, but there were always things wrong with other buildings.”
Meyers signed the lease in October 2007, but didn’t finalize funding for renovations through the Northside Community Development Fund and Bridgeway Capital until March of 2008.
The owner had already performed basic renovations and three of ten inspections, but everything else was left to Myers.
“It was just a shell. We had to do the walls, electrical work [and everything else]. Thank god my husband does electrical work,” she said, referring to her husband Cateliou Myers, an electrician.
Then came the long string of inspections. Six separate inspections – one each for plumbing, electrical, American with Disabilities Act, health, building and daycare licensing – stalled the renovation’s many phases.
Meyers’s fortune improved, however, when she met her next door business neighbor. Nicky Heckman, the owner of Bistro-to-Go, the café next door to the daycare, introduced her to pastor Blaine Workman of Allegheny Center Alliance Church.
Workman had helped Heckman with Bistro-To-Go’s building improvements during her start-up period, and Heckman thought he might assist Myers’s with her own.
“Pastor Blaine came over and sat down with me and asked me what I needed right away,” Myers said.
Workman, an administrative pastor, had worked with other groups to develop Northside real estate before, such as financial non-profit Grace Period.
“The time seemed to be dragging on, we learned her need from Nicky, so we were able to send some teams and put them back on track.”
Workman organized a group of church volunteers with construction know-how to lay down carpet and paint the daycare in an array of bright pastel colors. The light blue and yellows accent the different rooms, clearly differentiating rooms for separate age groups.
For Workman it was a nostalgic project. Carlisles, a wedding supply store now located in the Strip District, is still owned by Workman’s mother. Located on East Ohio Street for about 60 years, Workman spent much of his youth working in the family business.
I told Charlene that I had worked at Carlisles for a number of years. So I don’t even know how many times I’ve painted those walls over the last 35 years,” Workman said. “My mother is anxious to come over to see how they’re using the building for the daycare.”
Meyers originally wanted to run her operation as a full 24-hour service. She figured running the daycare through the night would be useful to nightshift employees at Allegheny General Hospital and elsewhere. But because the owner, Morgan Kronk, plans to install apartments above the daycare, full 24-hour service would have complicated the city’s fire code.
Mom’s Care features a school-age classroom, an infant room, a toddler playroom, a general play area and a preschool room.
The daycare is limited to children six years old or younger during the school year, but during the summer Charlene watches children up to 12 years old.
Meyers says the difference between her daycare and others is two-fold.
“We offer non-traditional hours for working mothers, and we follow a Christian format,” Myers said. “We do a devotion in the morning where they do their prayers, and then we’ll do a Christian craft to reinforce the lesson of the day.”
As it stands now, Myers is just happy to finally have her doors open. But she already has her hands full. Besides nine children at Mom’s Care, she’s keeping open her home daycare service on Woodland Avenue in Brighton Heights.