Day care damaged by tornado reopens at temporary facility

Published: Aug. 19, 2019 at 6:46 PM EDT
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After a two-month hiatus, Growing Kids Learning Center in South Bend is back open, but at a temporary facility.

“Our normal location back on Ironwood Road was

,” Growing Kids President Mike Garatoni said.

On Monday, the day care said hello to its temporary facility and said goodbye to its old one.

“I am thrilled to be back with all my friends, all the teachers, and most of our kids went to kindergarten, but we did keep some of our original kids. It’s a new class, and it’s very exciting,” staff member Helan Madick says.

Now occupying the old Xavier School in South Bend, plans to build a state-of-the-art Growing Kids Learning Center at its original location are already in the works.

The new building will include new play centers, infant rooms, classrooms for both preschool and after-school programs, and innovative playgrounds.

If you ask Garatoni what excites him most, it’s being able to open his doors again now, instead of waiting for the new building to open later.

“Usually to set up a school is a 10-month process, and the licensing alone is usually a three-month process. We got it done in about two weeks. We’re real happy that everyone was able to pitch in and get it done,” Garatoni said.

While how great it is to be able to reopen in a span of two months can’t be overstated, staff members say excitement over the new building will make weathering the storm that much more worth it.

"I think when we go to the new building, it’s going to be a whole other thing. They’re going to be excited over the new building, the new classroom. … Things are going to be a little different but probably the same. I think they are going to do just like they did here. They are going to explore,” Madick said.

Garotoni says he expects the new Growing Kids Learning Center on Ironwood to be ready in the summer of 2020.