LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - While December 31 represents the end of the year for many, it marked the end of an era for a staple in Louisville's Smoketown neighborhood.
After more than a century of providing community services, the Presbyterian Community Center ceased all operation Tuesday.
"This place has been a part of my life for 21 years," said Gail Harwell, Camp Edwards Child Care Development Center Director.
The child development center had been more than just Harwell's place of work. For the childcare director, it had been a home away from home.
"It's very hard for me," began Harwell. "I had some of the children when they were preschoolers when they first got here."
The child development center once filled with children and laughter, remained quiet and still New Year's Eve.
"The week before Christmas," began Harwell, "it was their last day."
Back in August, board members suspended nearly all programming in a last ditch effort to save the PCC. Everything from health and food services to education and youth athletics met the ax. The only thing spared--the child development center and its employees.
Fast forward four months, a fund-raising campaign, and a publicized call for community support, and the center's money tank remained on empty. Depleted, PCC board members voted to halt all operations effective December 31.
"We hoped that we would be able to keep the child development center open but unfortunately we weren't able to grow it in the period of time that we needed to in order to reach a point where we would break even and at least keep it open," said PCC Chairman Grover Potts. "We hope that there will be some entity that will come in and acquire both the community center and the child development center and restart either one or both of those operations."
As a revitalized Sheppard Square housing complex takes form across the street, the very center that attracted some to the area will no longer be around to embrace new neighbors.
"We started getting calls over a month ago from prospective residents in the new Sheppard Square complex," said Harwell. "They were actually calling to see if we had openings. They knew that we were right next door and they know our reputation of being a three star center, and that we were connected with Metro United Way. So, it was very disappointing to them to learn that we would not be able to offer the services that they were seeking."
"Yeah, I am sad," began Potts, "but I'm also pleased with the number of lives that were changed as a result of the PCC being there, most notably is Muhammad Ali learned to box."
"I would like to see some organization come in and duplicate the services that were being offered here," said Harwell.
Metro United Way has offered to help families and employees displaced by the closure of the child development center as it ends an era for the 115-year-old Smoketown staple.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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