Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hope grows in Groveland

Hope for the Children. That’s what Good Neighbor Program founders Dianne and John Garvis have dubbed a makeover project they have embarked on for the Kiddie Land Academy daycare in Groveland.

Leslie Campassano, who with husband Louie owns and runs the daycare, said if it weren’t for the program, the center likely would have closed in June when the lease at the building they are renting for Kiddie Land expires.

They did own the rundown building across from it, they did not have the money to renovate it.

“We hadn’t told anyone about closing yet but knew it was coming. Then Dianne came in one day just out of the blue. She’d never stopped in here before but said she was passing by when she noticed our sign,” Campassano said.

“I mentioned to her about closing and after hearing our story and about how we cater to many low-income families’ needs, asked if they could remodel the building,” Campassano said. “I said, ‘Are you crazy? Do you have any idea about what that building needs done?’”

And so started the Hope for the Children renovation project.

Help poured in from many businesses and organizations. South Lake Hospital’s LiveWell facility sponsored the building of an indoor play area and exercise room. Home

Depot donated building and flooring supplies, BurgerFI, a new restaurant chain headed for Clermont, sponsored the kitchen and built an eating area. And more than 20 other contractors and companies helped with the renovations.

Groveland officials waived all permitting fees.

Betty Anne Hutchens, a children’s author and artist who lives in Delaware, was flown in last week to paint a mural inside the new building. On Friday, locally renowned artist Harry Gray painted a mural on an outside wall.

A fence and playground were constructed Friday.

A sign near the

playground says it was built in memory of Lily Quintus, the four-year-old daughter of Groveland paramedic Brian Quintus, who was killed earlier this month when a car crashed into a KinderCare daycare in Orlando.

“The children of Groveland will no longer be invisible. An army of caring neighbors have teamed together to shower them with love,” Dianne Garvis said.

A ribbon cutting and official reveal of the new Kiddie Land building will be 1 p.m. today at the daycare, 668 W. Broad Street, Groveland.

Campassano said she and her husband are floored by the generosity of the the Good Neighbor Program, all the donors and volunteers who had a hand in renovating the new daycare for them and the children who attend there.

Danielle Damarest, a teacher at Kiddie Land, said she thinks the kids are going to love their new daycare center. “They (kids) will definitely know the difference,” Damarest said.

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