As a young mother, Ilene Stark felt lucky to enroll her three-year-old daughter, Gesse, into the Pike Market Childcare and Preschool. Now, 20 years later, Ilene is the proud Executive Director of the Pike Market Preschool where she looks after the care and education of 62 children from three months to five-years-old and manages a team of 23 staff members.
Ilene loves being part of the Market community because it is so diverse, and all people are visible and have an important role to play – from the child in the preschool to the senior who lives above the Market and the array of independent business owners. Many of the families who enroll their children in the preschool work in Pike Place Market.
What’s unique about this preschool is it welcomes families of all income levels. And, with the support of the Pike Place Market Foundation, 70% of children enrolled in the preschool receive some form of tuition assistance.
Market businesses also give back to the preschool and provide tremendous support throughout the year. “When we walk the children through the Market, they welcome them into their stalls to learn about fish, produce, flowers and crafts. The children love that.”
“This is a place where children are free to be children,” says Ilene. “We don’t want kids to feel they have to sit still, cross their legs and walk in a straight line. We are happy if they skip a little down the hall. That’s something I love about this place.”
This Mother’s Day Ilene is donating to the Pike Up! campaign with a Market Charm in memory of her Mother. Her donation will help build the new MarketFront and expand business opportunities and community services too, so more moms like her can have the opportunity to thrive as professionals and mothers alike.
“Not only does a charm support all the good work for the low income and elderly in the market, it connects you to this beautiful and unusual community. I think we can look all over the world and not find another one like it.”
This Mother’s Day, honor Moms with a Market Charm or Piggybank Hoofprint. Click here to write Mom’s name into Pike Place Market history.