Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 13, 1999
Sisters expand their daycare
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
The Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate's new 1,400-square-metre home is a grand manor compared to the "chicken coop" they once lived in.
"That's what I called it," said June Cavanagh of the sisters' former home, which also served as Sisema Daycare for the past 22 years. "It was so small."
Cavanagh heads the fundraising team for the sisters' new facility, which boasts three spacious floors and state of the art security system.
"Three or four months ago (Sister Angelika Toma) called me, it was 10 in the morning," said Cavanagh. "She said she needed help. . . . I got here at noon and have been here ever since."
Cavanagh's job is to help the sister's raise $1 million to pay for the project. Although the main building is finished, the storage area and landscaping will not be complete until spring.
The new house and daycare sit on two lots adjacent to Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
The new building carries on a long-standing tradition the sisters have had in the city.
"We are the only daycare run by sisters," said Toma, local superior. "Many people like bringing their children here because the sisters work here."
Seven sisters care for 30 youngsters. The centre can accommodate twice that many, but Toma said she will have to recruit more sisters to work there before they can accept newcomers.
Although the sisters are deeply rooted in their Catholic faith, it is not pushed upon the children they care for.
"We have all different kinds of children here," Toma said. "Some with money, some without, Catholic and non. We have some who just speak Polish and some who don't. It doesn't matter, we accept anyone."
Toma and Cavanagh recognize the daycare's popularity stems from the placid environment the sisters have created for the children.
Not having a parent at home raising the children is not something the sisters oppose.
"No matter how much money you have or what you do, you can't be with your children all the time," said Cavanagh. "It's OK to have someone else be with your children."
Toma smiles at Cavanagh and nods agreeingly.
The sisters see themselves as more than daycare staff, she said.
"Parents not only bring their children to us, they also come to talk to us," Toma said.