Editor’s Note: A mistake was made during the production of this article in our weekly print edition of The Voice. A crucial piece of information was deleted that identified Jan Dean as Director of Kids First Day Care in Rupert. The full article is found below and The Voice offers its sincere apologies for the oversight.
By C. COLT CRANE
RUPERT – A day care facility has decided to close up shop after 15 years of service to the Rupert area.
The Kids First Day Care was founded after the First Christian Church (now known as First Christian Praise Chapel) received a phone call from the Rupert hospital with a request to open a day care for hospital staff.
The day care was established as a non-profit 501c3 business. The hospital provided organizers with its first $1,000 to help the day care open its doors.
Over the next ten and a half years, the day care was located inside the First Christian Church until the church merged with Praise Chapel. After the merging, the facility was moved to its current location beside the Rupert Fire Station.
Now, after a decade and a half of child care service, the day care has decided to close its doors. The facility celebrated the start of its 16th year on August 13, 2013 and will officially close up shop on August 16, 2013.
“We feel that we have touched a lot of lives,” said Kids First Day Care Director Jan Dean.
Dean stated that when the business was established it was viewed as a mission to provide affordable child day care to the community.
“We feel that our mission is complete,” said Dean. “We’re thankful to the community for supporting us and for standing by us.”
Dean expressed gratitude for the First Christian Praise Chapel in allowing the day care to use its building.
According to Dean, the day care has been successful due to each of its directors over the years.
“Each director that came brought something important to the day care and each child has been an important part of our mission,” said Dean. “I think it’s important to honor them.”
Dean offered her gratitude to the facility’s board members. Kids First Day Care is forever grateful to Elise Heins, Dixie Walker Chris Stenzel and Wendel Dean for their support.
“Heins in particular has been a vital part of the day care from the beginning,” said Dean.
“I also need to honor my staff. They’re amazing and they work hard.”
After nearly 16 years of providing day care services for the community, the staff of Kids First Day Care closes its doors with heavy hearts.
“It’s emotional,” said Kids First Day Care Manager Ramie Stenzel, 42. “I’m just going to miss it.”
Looking around the busy play area of the day care, ‘Ms. Ramie’ as the kids refer to her, struggles with bittersweet feelings as the day care prepares to close its doors.
“My heart was to do day care because of where I’ve come from,” said Stenzel.
“I was raised in foster care until I was nine before I was turned over to a very abusive father. As I got older, I decided that I needed to be the link to change my path and I have done that.”
Stenzel stated that after being married for 20 years with three great boys of her own, she feels that she has been able to overcome her hardships.
“My heart is here. My heart is for these kids,” said Stenzel. “I was a drug baby and because of the chains that I’ve broken in my past, I wanted to be able to make a difference to kids that are going through the same thing that I’ve gone through. I wanted to love these kids like they need to be loved and to be a security for them.”
The children of Kids First Day Care laughed and played with smiles on each of their faces as the dedicated staff watched over them. After so many years of helping children, the day care says goodbye with feelings of joy after a successful run and pangs of sadness that come with moving on.