Maple Grove Baptist Daycare in Louisville is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and its founder, Glennice Manakee who just turned 90, is still working for the daycare.
“I like to keep my hand in it,” Manakee said. She comes in one day a week to help keep books.
The daycare opened its doors right after Labor Day in 1966. The church, part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s “a million more in ’54” initiative, wanted to find a way to put the extra rooms they had to use during the week.
The pastor at the time asked Manakee, a member since 1961, to spearhead a committee to decide what to do with the space.
Manakee, a former nurse, spent her days as a stay at home mother. As her daughters were getting older, she was eager to find another use of her time.
“Daycare was in it’s infancy. For one year, we worked and we went to every daycare we could find. We went to classes. We did studies about whether it would be easy to open a daycare in this area or not. We sent out fliers. So we opened up 1966,” Manakee shared.
When the daycare started, she worked for $35 a week, arriving at 5 am each morning. “I was daycare director for 22 years. I didn’t even intend to be involved. I intended after we got the daycare started, that was it. But I was the only one who knew anything about daycare at the time so I was chosen. That was okay with me,” she shared.
Now after so many years, Manakee noted that she sees adults who used to be children at the daycare bringing their own kids back to be a part.
The church, located in a predominately Catholic section of Louisville, is rooted in ministry. “As we teach these children how to be redirected (a childcare method), we want them to be redirected to the love of Christ. I’ve been intentional on Wednesdays to have Bible story time. We sing Christian songs. Parents all know it,” Pastor Ray Hayes, said, mentioning that children of Muslim and Catholic faiths attend.
“The church has to be dedicated and committed to children’s ministry,” he continued. “If we don’t get them while they are young and get them asking questions, they are not going to ask them when they get in middle school and high school. They used to say if you don’t reach them in high school you won’t reach them. Now if you don’t at least touch them in preschool you won’t reach them. They need to learn the truth and the Word.”
Manakee also sees the daycare as a ministry. “It definitely is a ministry. I always said that it was a church first and a daycare second. If anybody came and said, ‘I don’t believe in that,’ I’d say, ‘Well, you know, this is a Baptist church.’ Even though we don’t teach doctrine, we do have Bible stories. We never backed down on that.”
Hayes expressed appreciation for Manakee’s longevity and dedication, as well as many of the other senior saints that have been so dedicated to the daycare ministry.
“Most of her time every day was spent here meeting the needs of children. She’s 90 years old and she’s still meeting the needs of children,” he commented.