LINO LAKES — For over 20 years, Love to Grow On has lacked a space it could call its own. After leasing space in various locations over the years, the board of directors and staff are celebrating the completion of the facility’s nearly $4 million building.
Love to Grow On held a grand opening celebration Monday, July 1, at its new child care center located at 6499 Lakota Trail in Lino Lakes. The 13,000-square-foot facility, designed by architect Peter Hilger, features two infant rooms, one waddler room (for older infants/younger toddlers), two toddler rooms, four preschool rooms, one multipurpose school-aged area, an art studio that opens up to an outdoor courtyard, and multiple outdoor spaces.
“It was April 10, 2017, when our board members walked the length and breadth of this lot. Now two years and three months later, we are here on the same lot for this exciting grand opening,” said board Chair Carol Koskinen. Executive Director Linda Bartos King added, “If you are in this room, chances are you are a piece of the puzzle that came together to make this possible, and without any one of those pieces, we probably wouldn't be here today.”
Love to Grow On became a nonprofit organization in August 1998 but didn't find a home until the following year, at Living Faith Church in Circle Pines. “I called every single church in the Yellow
Pages, all over the Twin Cities. We were beginning to think maybe God didn't think it was such a great idea after all,” Bartos King recalled.
In 2003, swarms of parents began touring Love to Grow On after a child care center that had been in operation for 30 years closed down at the Baptist church in Spring Lake Park.
The church asked if Love to Grow On would consider taking over the operation. From 2003-2008, Love to Grow On operated in Spring Lake Park while continuing to run the Circle Pines location. When the church merged with Eagle Brook Church, the child care operation had to find another home. In February 2009, Love to Grow On found a vacant building in Lexington and continued to operate out of that location and Living Faith Church until the new facility opened its doors.
At the grand opening celebration, Bartos King and board member Mara O'Neil thanked everyone who played a role in the child care facility’s new home, including lenders, contractors, members of the board of directors, staff, families, architects, city officials and more.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child; and in our case, it takes two villages (and) two cities to raise a child. It takes the city of Lino Lakes to welcome us and also the city of Columbia Heights, which generously shared part of their tax-exempt bond allocation with us,” O'Neil said.
An important feature of the new facility is the outdoor space, designed by an architect specializing in such spaces outdoor architect. Although the space is not complete just yet, the exterior of the building will feature dry riverbeds with a water source and plants, and will supply many gardening opportunities for the children.
“The hardest part about moving was we lost the woods at the church,” Bartos King explained. “It was never the woods that was special, it was the kids, because they made it their own. We can't wait to see what they make out of this, because we know they will, it will be theirs and they will remember it.”
Children officially returned to Love to Grow On in the new building the day after the grand opening. For more information about Love to Grow On, visit lovetogrowon.com.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.