Church to give kids better Head Start Work to begin on preschool center

June 28, 1993|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Staff Writer

Wearing their Sunday best, about 100 people gathered in an alleyway behind the Union Baptist Church to shovel a symbolic mound of dirt -- the groundbreaking for a Head Start preschool center.

The Rev. Vernon N. Dobson, pastor of the 140-year-old church, said the ceremony was also a tribute to "a church that does not just worship on Sundays."

The congregation has raised more than $300,000 for the Head Start center next to the church, expanding its facilities for the program, and is trying to raise another $1.1 million. The project also has received $1 million through a bond issue approved by the General Assembly.

Mr. Dobson said the $2.4 million Head Start center is a secular effort by the church to serve the surrounding community. The church's contributions to building the facility hardly differ from the efforts of other churches for other causes, he said.

"This is just an extension in one church of what most churches do," he said.

Mr. Dobson said the Head Start program is "a way of empowering our children. . . . We don't have much to celebrate if the little children coming to us do not have their potentials actualized."

David Elam, director of development for the city Department of Housing and Community Development, praised the Union Baptist Head Start program's service to the community since its beginning in 1968.

"Here they are, 25 years later with a new administration where they have survived and are expanding," he said.

Projected to open in the fall of 1994, the facility will replace three older classroom buildings and increase capacity from 170 to 250 preschoolers.

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