By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — When parents of former, current and future Holy Family Teddy Bear Club preschool students learned their school might close, they stepped forward to keep it open for at least one more year. Holy Family Parish operates the school and cannot afford costly repairs needed in the building.
Lisa Conger, director of Holy Family Teddy Bear Club, said she learned in February the preschool would close at the end of the current school year because an inspection showed the building requires some substantial repairs. Electrical issues must be addressed and the building, constructed in the late 1800s, needs a new roof and furnace, among other items.
Holy Family’s finance council did not have the money for the repairs and the decision was made to close the preschool. Conger said a note was sent home to parents, who began to ask questions she couldn’t answer. She requested a meeting with the parish council so she could report to parents at a parent meeting.
The parents’ willingness to help became apparent during an April 3 meeting they attended along with staff from All Saints Catholic School, Holy Family parishioners and members of various councils, community members and Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools.
Many stepped forward prior to the meeting and afterwards to offer their services at no charge to fix up the school.
After another look at the roof, it was decided repairs in certain areas would work instead of having to replace the entire roof. A contractor offered to install a new furnace as well. “There was a willingness to help. People were offering their time, talent and treasure,” Conger said.
After the meeting, the finance council met and decided the school would stay open another year. “They want to make sure people follow through on their commitments,” she said. “This would not have been possible without the support of All Saints Catholic School and Holy Family Parish.”
Teddy Bear history
Holy Family Teddy Bear Club was established in 1989 and currently offers 3-year-old preschool. When All Saints Catholic School’s 4-year-old preschool program is filled, Teddy Bear Club will accept additional students ages 4 and 5. The club also offers full-time daycare for 3- to 5-year-olds.
Teddy Bear Club is housed in the original Holy Family Church that was built in 1898. After the church moved into its current site in 1909, the building was used as a two-room school with Sisters of Mercy teaching there. The building then served as the pastor’s residence and was nicknamed “Camp Swampy.”