Pike Market Child Care & Preschool Celebrates 30 Years
by Mary Kollar, Market Foundation Volunteer
Hanna is wearing a green toile tutu under her parka. With the help of her friends she has draped Rachel the Piggy Bank’s porcine girth with a piggy tutu in pink. Then the group photo with teacher and friends and it is TIME TO PARTY!
“May I come?,” I ask.
“Sure. It’s a birthday party,” responded the preschooler. “We are 30 years old today!”
“And I’m four and a HALF.” Hanna runs off to the open door of the Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, which is celebrating its 30th birthday. Hanna is one of over 50 other children who arrive each day and more than 2,000 alumnae who have grown up and moved on to succeed in this wide, welcoming world with the help of our community-based preschool in the Market.
For those of us who relish sepia photos of a 1910 Pike Place Market composed of farmer’s carts – produce laden and pulled by horses – we can pause to wonder where the farmer’s family was. The little ones were often under the cart, avoiding heavy rain, but seated on slick cobblestones where they made dolls out of butternut squash.
More than 30 years ago, the Pike Market took notice of children clinging to mothers and fathers who worked in the many stalls in the market. Why couldn’t these children accompany their parents to work but also arrive at a safe, nurturing location nearby? Humble beginnings in a room above the Pike Market Bakery have grown to a state-of –the-art facility.
Preschool director Ilene Stark leads us through the spacious multi-room child care center. Rooms for infants and toddlers with size appropriate bathrooms have toilet seats shaped like daisies. Art rooms where children learn art as an extension of their identity, classrooms for pre-K children who gather to help each other build a puzzle or to write a story. There is a cozy reading nook with child-size couch and bookshelves neatly lined with colorful books. A few steps up take us to a kitchen Tom Douglas would admire. December, the seasoned chef and nutritionist, pulls from the refrigerator a sizeable birthday cake, a carrot cake iced to snow-bank white perfection.
In addition to a beautiful carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, December has also made both a gluten-free and a vegan cake, for those with special diets. Every child has a healthy diet at Pike Market Child Care where breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack provide 70% of a child’s daily nutritional needs, all without processed foods and sugar and with wholegrain, and fresh fruit and vegetable ingredients.
This birthday party is not about WHAT we celebrate, but WHO we celebrate. Who includes the children, their parents, teachers, the Board and many volunteers. There are Foster Grandparents who arrive daily to provide extra love and attention and read to the children. Some have been coming each day for over 15 years, and at party’s end each will receive an award.
Thank you to our Pike Market community for all of the precious birthday gifts we’ve been opening each day for 30 years – seeing our children grow! Mothers and fathers, most making a living at or near poverty level, have brought their children to this special place where seeds are planted and will grow from the western sun that pours into the expansive windows of the sunlit Pike Market Child Care and Preschool.
Here, have a big slice of birthday cake.