Happy Workers Children's Center

Give here

Who it helps: Provides child care and education for children two months to 5 years old in south St. Petersburg

Where to give: www.happyworkers.org or by mail at 920 19th St. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Telephone 727-894-5337.

One of our friends calls Happy Workers "a great South St. Pete jewel," and this day care and school has been around for 76 years with an emphasis on peacemaking and social justice. More than 5,000 kids are graduates, including actress Angela Bassett and state Rep. Frank Peterman.

Happy Workers was started in a storage room at Trinity Presbyterian Church, the project of Willie Lee McAdams, the wife of a Presbyterian minister. As Happy Workers' own history puts it, "That center was a place where children would learn to be peacemakers, where they would be loved, and where they would learn to appreciate the diversity of the world community."

The school currently educates 135 students, with a curriculum that teaches the concepts of children as peacemakers and earthkeepers (environment and nature), diversity and the arts. It also uses an Italian-developed method of education in which children's knowledge is valued and respected, instead of viewing them as something to simply give knowledge to, said Dr. Virginia Irving, executive director.

Happy Workers provides scholarships to all of its families to keep its fees low, so anyone wishing to help sponsor a child can do that, Irving said. The organization is also starting a capital campaign to replace aging buildings.

A contribution of at least $100 makes you a Friend of Happy Workers, but the center will accept any level of giving. Its wish list includes: school supplies; new computers (no used computers, please); printing services; painting services; a new 15-seat van; special events tickets; new playground equipment; and children's music CDs.

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