Despite the threat of a blizzard moving over The Island City last Thursday, the Rocking Horse Child Care at United Methodist Church of the Pines celebrated 40 years of helping children grow and learn with a few tears, laughter, children dancing and quite a few rounds of “thank you.”
After providing tours of the facility, the more than 50 adults, some of whom had attended the center through the years and now have enrolled their own children, gathered in the main church hall for a few formalities.
Kathy Almekinder, director of Rocking Horse, gave a brief recap of the history of the center. Spearheaded in 1974 by then-pastor Rev. Erv Teichmiller and parishioner Trudy Black, the center has become a fixture in Minocqua, providing child care services at an affordable rate.
Almekinder has been with Rocking Horse for 31 years, starting as an aide, becoming a teacher, then assistant director before taking over 15 years ago. She introduced Teichmiller, adding “I hope we make him proud of his mission.”
When asked if he thought the child care center would last 40 years, he replied “Yes, I did. It was a good vision.”
Teichmiller said he was one of many people who came up with the idea, it was brought to life by the work of many dedicated people, in and outside of the parish.
“Judy Black and Muffy St. Germain, who wasn’t a part of the church but was deeply involved with starting this, as well,” Teichmiller said. “I’d also like to thank the church because the church was patient with the idea, allowed it to develop and germinate, and after a while, they even got comfortable with the idea of having all these little kids around, which was delightful.
“I’m just glad that you’re still here,” he added.
Almekinder then presented Teichmiller with a plaque thanking him for starting the center
Almekinder also acknowledged another person instrumental in the lasting success. Mary Folsom was the first director of the center, and managed it for its first 15 years, before Almekinder took over.
“She was my mentor,” Almekinder said. “She put in a lot of years and she got this place really going.”
Almekinder also thanked the late Rev. Ray Robinson, who stepped in as pastor of the parish after Teichmiller was reassigned.
“He really kept it going, as did all the church officers and all the pastors who followed,” she said. “We still appreciate all your support. And it’s come full circle; we have the children who attended here now bringing their children here.”
She then added that she hoped the center can continue running another 40 years.
The current students then sang the “I Love You, You Love Me” song to Teichmiller.
And that wasn’t the end of the singing, as Tom Pease then led the children, and the adults present, through an hour of fun participation songs that had everyone laughing and acting out the songs.
After Pease performed, refreshments were served.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.