Tick Tock Early Learning Center celebrates 1M$ renovation

AVONDALE — Today Tick Tock Early Learning Center celebrated its long-anticipated Ribbon Cutting Ceremony honoring the completion of the million-dollar Building Brighter Futures Capital Campaign.

Tick Tock founder Sally Lighty, who has remained committed to Tick Tock since its opening in 1964, cut the ribbon today in front of staff, students, trustees, and donors, including the Campaign Chair, Cecilia Ross. Rep. Christina Sappey, PA House Representative of the 158th District, attended the ceremony. Sappey advocates for accessible, affordable, quality early childhood education and care.

Board President, Patrick Manahan, said, “When I  joined the Board, the idea of a $1,000,000 Capital Campaign seemed impossible. Early conversations revolved not around renovation but around the potential inevitability of relocation. The structural needs of our building, playground, and physical plant were rapidly outpacing our ability to conquer them. But no one could bear the thought of giving up on our location.”

In 2016, the team took the plunge, embarking upon the Building Brighter Futures Campaign with an ambitious goal of $1,000,000 to renovate the building, overcome the floodplain, update the utilities, and add space to increase student capacity.

The renovations included a $250,00 kitchen overhaul and expansion, including the installation of commercial-grade appliances and an expanded stainless steel prep area. These enhancements allow the Center to offer students homemade meals from fresh ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks every day.

Kirstan Dolinger, Executive Director at TTELC, said, “Providing meals is an integral part of our program. Many of the children experience food insecurity and we’re able to provide balanced meals. For some, this is the only food they may get that day. Many of our families receive food donations weekly from local food cupboards as well as support from local churches during the holidays.”

The Campaign allowed the Center to modernize its building systems by updating its infrastructure, including plumbing, HVAC, electricity, and sewer system. These updates provide greater efficacy, efficiency, and safety with less need for emergency repairs.

Construction included separating classrooms with permanent walls, individual entrances and exits, and additional restrooms.

Susan K. Czerwin, Operations Director, said, “These enhancements greatly reduce interruptions and promote positive student behavior. The playground access ramp allows for safe mobility of our youngest toddlers.”

Other upgrades include:

  • Dedicated study space for school-age students to complete homework
  • Private room for itinerant teachers to provide 1-on-1 therapies and interventions
  • Independent space for parent-teacher conferences, curriculum prep, and staff lounge
  • Centralized storage loft for essential curriculum needs
  • New classroom with ADA restroom
  • Curriculum storage loft
  • Maximized footprint for increased capacity
  • Enhanced technology tools to improve program quality, efficiency, and delivery.
  • Child Care Management Software

The Campaign also allowed the Center to strengthen its Operating Reserves to buffer cash flow fluctuations and unforeseen hardships.

Leadership Donors for the project include Ann and Steve Hutton, Anne and Michael Moran, Moorhead Family Fund, Davenport Family Foundation, Longwood Foundation, The McLean Contributionship, Marshall-Reynolds Foundation, Springbank Foundation, Welfare Foundation, Crystal Trust, and Hamilton Charitable Trust.

Wayne and Colleen Simpson of Wayne Simpson Architect donated in full their architectural and interior design services to the Center’s renovation and expansion project. Additional construction support was provided in part by Oliver Heating and Cooling.

Czerwin said, “The team from Oliver kept noise to a minimum, especially during our student’s nap-time hours. They worked weekends when necessary and allowed the Center to remain open throughout the project.”

Penn Security designed and installed the Center’s updated fire and security systems, ensuring the safety of its students.

Manahan added, “These renovations were completed right before the pandemic began, and we quickly realized the ancillary benefits our added capacity, extra space, dedicated teacher spaces, and investment in technology would have on the students in our care during such an uncertain time. In particular, this Center became a safe haven for School-Aged students who were suddenly forced into the virtual environment without proper resources or supervision. Tick Tock was able to open their arms to this group, keeping them up to speed with their academics and allowing their parents to continue working. I can think of no greater example of ‘living the mission,’ and this Campaign made it possible.”

“When we come together as a community in support of special places like this,” Manahan concluded, “and the special people who deliver this important mission every day, it is more than simply validation – it is a loud and very public affirmation of our collective belief in this place, in the work that we do, and in the people who make Tick Tock shine.”

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