Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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The nonprofit will be limited to 40 children in cohorts of 10. It received a $30K grant from the county for operations.

COURTESY PHOTO - Jefferson County Commissioner Wayne Fording hands  a $30,000 check to Caren Pilkington, Kids Club's director at a special meeting of the commissioners Friday, July 10.Kids Club is opening Wednesday, July 15, thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.

The commissioners called a special meeting Friday, July 10, to make sure the program had the funds to open.

Commissioner Wayne Fording made a motion to use $30,000 of federal CARES Act funds to help the program, which closed March 16.

The program will house about one-third of the children it did last summer. The 40 kids will be in cohorts of 10 with one staff member. The nonprofit has been able to rehire all of its staff.

By Monday, 11 spots were still left, and the signups represented 18 families.

One of the mothers can go back to work full-time.

"She was in tears of happiness that she's able to work and know there's a safe place for her kids," said Director Caren Pilkington. "My staff and myself are coming up with creative ways to make sure that we're still having that fun but safe environment for their kids."

Usually, kids rotate to different rooms -- the gym, the game room, the club room for arts and crafts and the brain domain for learning.

"We're going to bring all of that to all of our rotations," Pilkington said. "We're going to bring different things to different areas."

So the kids will stay in the same room, and equipment and supplies will be assigned to their cohort alone.

"We will do walking field trips," Pilkington said, provided proper distance can be kept. Those will be one cohort at a time, too.

Pilkington just marked her third anniversary with Kids Club, and despite the challenges, she said working with the organization is the best decision she's ever made.

"I have to say that I have a board of directors -- they back us up. They know what our goal is ... If we can go through what we just went through as a community and still stay strong for the kids, I think that's what says it all at the end of the day."

Pilkington is thankful for the money from the county, and she's thankful for support from the community, as well.

"Jefferson County as a whole has just been so supportive of our program," Pilkington said. "We couldn't ask to be in a better county than we are in."

Pilkington said several parents have reached out to say they would rather have the program reserve spots for parents who need them most.

"We truly are one," Pilkington said, "and I think we all have the same goal at the end of the day, and it's to have each other's best interests at heart."


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