ORWELL TOWNSHIP – Blessings Christian Daycare owner Katie Robinson has had many prayers answered in her first year of business.
“My mom said to me, ‘Katie, you’re the only person that would open a day care center inside a school in the middle of a pandemic,’ … but it turned out for the best,” said Robinson. “It’s been going great so far.”
Located in the basement of Northeast Bradford Elementary School, the daycare and preschool has grown from eight to 40 children with a waiting list, and Robinson is getting ready to launch a second location at Elk Lake Elementary School.
“(Northeast Bradford) is doing amazing and I couldn’t be more happy and proud,” she said. “Hopefully Elk Lake takes off, and maybe there will be a third some day. We’ll see.”
Since studying early childhood education in college, Robinson wanted to own her own preschool. However, as she gained experience as a preschool teacher and program director over the years, the right opportunity to own her own business didn’t present itself.
Then, she stepped into Twila Bullock’s Child Care Center in the basement of Northeast Bradford Elementary School for a training where she learned the business was going to be sold – and the price was right.
“It was affordable, so I thought this was my chance,” she said. “I’ve been praying for something to hit me. I wanted a preschool. I can have a whole day care. I just love kids and it just happened.”
However, being able to get her inspection to receive her license ended up delayed as Pennsylvania braced for the COVID-19 pandemic and then shut down in March 2020, preventing her from opening. By May, she was able to complete her licensing and opened her doors on July 6, 2020.
Because she was unable to open before the Feb. 15, 2020 cutoff as she had originally intended, she was unable to secure a Paycheck Protection Plan loan after opening. Her delayed opening also restricted her from securing an initial education grant.
“I was so upset,” she said.
While driving in one day, she began praying that they could make it through the pandemic and through their first year.
“And I walked in that day after saying a prayer all the way to work,” she continued, “and the school came down and offered me free meals, so that saves me $3,000 a month. And then we ended up getting that second (educational) grant that day.”
Because they are located in the Northeast Bradford Elementary School, Blessings has been subject to the school’s required COVID-19 closures throughout much of the past school year, even though Robinson said they have stayed healthy except for one instance in March.
Despite the challenges, Robinson feels blessed as she approaches her one year anniversary with the business.
“My prayers have been answered one too many times. I keep wondering when my time will be up,” she said with a laugh.