Learn Discover Grow

Block Number: 68


By Nora Worthen

The newest quilt block on the McDowell Quilt Trail is a little off the street, but easy to find once you drive behind New Manna Baptist Church and well through its parking lot. On the Monday afternoon before Thanksgiving, Mike Lucas, with the help of Marilyn Reynolds and George Ziegler, installed block No. 68 at 229 East Court Street in Marion. That is the location of the God’s Little People Child Development Center, where on average 48 children are cared for each day; however, it is licensed to handle a maximum of 62.

Dean and Linda Stevens own the day care center and have done so since February 2001. Holly Huffman, as director, oversees the activities and keeps an eye on the minute-by-minute happenings. Prior to 2001 the center was known as Proverbs 2:6. Maybe you will remember seeing that sign in front of New Manna Baptist Church in years past.

The daycare facility came up for sale while Dean was a deacon at New Manna Baptist Church, but the church declined the offer to purchase, so the prior owner approached Dean about buying it. Dean said he would pray about it and if the Lord worked it out, then he would.

At that time, Dean owned and operated Bud’s Garage and Towing, and had done so for some 30 years. Dean said he didn’t know he wanted to be in the childcare business, but “God put this in my lap. It seemed like everything just fell in place. My wife and I raised one daughter, and I thought that was enough.”

The center is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week, providing care for infants from six weeks up to school-age children. Stevens strives to provide McDowell County with the highest quality of childcare in a Christian atmosphere, with one of the highest educated group of teachers in childcare in the county. All the teachers are required to have a minimum of the childhood education credentials, and every effort is made to see that they continue their education in early childhood development. The facility participates in the USDA food program, which provides nutritional guidelines for children, “and we follow those guidelines strictly,” says Dean.

The one aspect of the center that Dean Stevens is most proud of is the live color video feed in each classroom. This live feed is accessible through the Internet for the parents, so they can stay connected with their child by accessing the center’s website, www.glpcdc.com, and entering the password code that is provided to them. Dean says, “It protects us, as well as provides the parents with a way to stay connected. As far as I know, we’re the only one in the county that has this capability.”

The transition from the garage business to childcare has been different and rewarding, declares Dean, as he talks about watching the “little guys” grow up and recounts their reaction upon meeting him years later in a different setting. “They will run up and hug me, because they remember me.”

God’s Little People Child Development Center’s quilt block, which is named “Learn, Discover, Grow,” hangs on the south-facing wall of the new addition to the building, which overlooks the play area. The motto for the school since its inception, has been learn, discover and grow. By helping the children to socialize, and cope with daily situations, they learn at a young age about discovering new things, which helps them to grow. It prepares them for kindergarten upon entering the school system.

“Learn, Discover, Grow” is a 4x4 foot quilt block in the configuration that quilters call a nine-patch block. It is made up of nine separate smaller blocks depicting nine separate scenes of children in situations, such as at play, walking in the rain, going fishing, feeding ducks, and watering plants. The center block is a little white country church, with a red door, in a country setting, with a cross on the hillside. A scene similar to one you might see in McDowell County.

Mike Lucas, Kathy Brendle and Jan Zimmerman spent 34 ½ volunteer hours painting this block, and used 39 different paint colors to create this beautiful piece of art. After the installation, Jill Lucas presented the Certificate of Authenticity to Dean Stevens and Holly Huffman. The certificate is displayed on the wall in the main office.

Dean says while the children are at play in their fenced-in playground, they point to the block and tell him how much they like it. He says, “We thank the good Lord that we’ve had the opportunity to touch these lives and help the parents by providing a place where they can really know their children are safe and cared for.”

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