GUILFORD >> Community Collaborative for Guilford hopes to construct a community center with a focus on early childhood education, particularly for childcare services — birth to school age — along with other community opportunities.
On April 11, the Select Board approved that the town sponsor a planning grant pre-application to the Vermont Community Development Program on behalf of the CC for G, which is a nonprofit that formed with the goal of meeting community needs. This is a pre-application for a pre-development planning grant, and only municipalities may apply for these funds. According Elly Majonen, the Guilford Church administrator and board member for CC for G, the application will be sent to Vermont Community Development program in Montpelier.
"This is an opportunity to flush out the ideas before us and see if the project is feasible and sustainable," said Majonen.
Guilford does not have a licensed or registered childcare facility in town. CC for G is interested in developing a space next to the Guilford Community Church that the church currently owns. CC for G would like to own the structure and carry out a ground lease with the church, which Majonen says will be clarified when they move forward with the planning grant.
This project came about when the church was trying to looking at its space needs, considering the future needs of church and community. Over the past several years, they first they proposed to add onto the building, then they purchased the building that abuts the church property. Now the plan is to get rid of mobile home that is on the property, which will leave physical room to create this community center.
"Also there are several ideas floating around, like neighbors helping neighbors, similar to what Guilford Cares already does, it would be a problem solving think tank space," said Majonen.
Majonen further explained that it would be a space that houses the food pantry, would accommodate infants through school-age children for before and after school programs and could be utilized as storage space for Guilford Cares' medical equipment that is currently being stored in someone's barn, according to Majonen.
In addition, Majonen imagines it as a place that helps people find resources they need, first by identifying what the individual's needs are, then either directing them to services or providing something direct, perhaps. Some of these services may include information about housing options or connecting people with Children's Integrated Services.
"Sandy Lynn from Guilford Cares said it's the idea of a wise old woman you could come to. The wise old person, that you can talk with, have a cup of tea and just talk about what's going on and get directed toward some kind of resource," said Majonen.
Majonen has lived in Guilford since 1993 and said she has been in the child care field for more years than that and has noticed the need for quality child care, a need that is not going away.
"There are many hurting families in our community that need support, and I think child care and the pantry are two ways we can help the families begin communication about their other needs and direct them to other resources," said
Pat Haine, the Guilford Cares Food Pantry director, said they currently serve between 20 to 26 families during the one day that they are open, Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The food pantry is currently housed at the Broadbrook Grange, which Haine stresses has worked wonderfully for the past six years.
"We're very grateful to be there (at the Grange), but it would be nice to have permanent room for shelving and refrigerators in one spot," said Haine. "If we were closer to Route 5 and the church area, I think we would serve more families."
The Guilford Care Food Pantry offers eggs, meats, vegetables, fresh produce from the Food Bank and farmers. Haine expressed that she feels a community center for children, with a playground and space that offers other resources would be a nice addition to the town.
CC for G received its status from IRS in December 2015 and was recognized by the state in April of 2015 according to Majonen.
"The sky is the limit right now and we're trying to look at what we can provide," said Majonen.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254- 2311 ext 275