In looking ahead to the new year, Breath of God Lutheran Church and The Highlandtown Preschool are moving forward on an opportunity which would allow us to be able to support more families with our school and better serve our community. This will carry forward the mission and work which were made possible by the generous contributions of a community supporters who helped us create this preschool more than three years ago.
A fire on November 22nd damaged three houses immediately adjacent to the Breath of God Church Building. One of those houses was vacant, while the other two were occupied. There was no loss of life, and we have helped to coordinate the community response to the fire and the support of the families driven from their homes. Our support for them continues as they continue to rebuild their lives.
One outcome of the fire is that the two properties directly north of our building are available for purchase. We are in touch with ownership for both properties, and those conversations have continued to make steady progress.
Our plan is to purchase and renovate those properties for multiple uses, with the primary use being the expansion of The Highlandtown Preschool. While the pandemic has disrupted the growth pattern of our school, we were able to successfully return to in-class education back in July and have continued to add students through the fall term. The underlying need for high-quality and equitable early childhood education has not lessened in our community—in fact, this pandemic has only heightened the importance of it for families in our area. We believe that we are well-positioned to emerge from the pandemic with a growing staff and a growing school.
The purchase and renovation of these two houses would allow us to add at least 22 two-year-olds to our program, bringing our total enrollment capacity to 56 students. Two-year-old slots are significantly harder to find in early childhood education centers here in our area, and about half of the inquiries we receive are from families looking for such an opportunity for their child. Not only will we be providing a much-needed form of support for students and families, but bringing students in at two years old allows us to work with them for three entire years before sending them to kindergarten. Their outcomes and our school community will be better as a result—and having more long-term stability in our student body lessens the burden on recruitment each year and allows us to develop stronger partnerships with our parents.
One of the main considerations for whether this project will happen is cost for both purchase and for renovation. A related consideration is our financing and our fundraising. The lower we can keep our costs, and the more we can raise now, the stronger the long-term prospects are for this project. Our goal in the next two months is to raise $120,000 (in hand and future commitments–receivable by July 1st, 2021) toward the project costs. This represents a 20% commitment, at a minimum, toward the success of this project (we expect project costs to come in at $500,000, but until everything is certain, we are prepared for up to a $600,000 project). We have already received commitments for $60,000, and are working now to raise the rest. If you or someone you know would be interested in supporting this effort, they can use this form to make a commitment (http://bit.ly/ClintonStreetProject), or may mail a check to the office, or may use the PayPal donation link for this project located on our church website (www.BreathOfGodLC.org/HowToHelp/). If you have any questions about this project, please be in touch with Pr. Mark Parker at Lsmparker@gmail.com.