PATEROS - Pateros Treehouse Early Education Organization has received a $110,000 donation from three area businesses to help it purchase a building and keep operating.
Gebbers Farms, Chelan Fresh and Apple House Warehouse and Storage Inc. gave a joint donation to the preschool. A check was presented last week at the Church of Christ building, 128 Independence St.
The donation will allow the site to be purchased and renovated for a new child care and learning center, said an announcement from the businesses.
“When Kailee Tanneberg found out that her daughter’s daycare - one of the only licensed home daycares within miles of her home - was going to close, she started to panic,” said the announcement. “Where would her 3-year-old daughter go while she had to work? The parents of the other 11 children attending the same daycare were asking the same question.”
The retiring owners, Carlene Anders and Gene Dowers, had a plan not just to replace their home-based daycare business, Activity Based Child Care and Preschool, but expand it - although it wouldn’t be easy, said the announcement.
Tanneberg now is president of the Pateros Treehouse Early Education Organization, a non-profit organization founded by Anders and Dowers to provide an affordable, high-quality, licensed childcare facility in Pateros.
The organization has spent more than two years raising money to fund an early child care learning center that could care for up to 50 children - more than four times the number of children as the ABC Daycare.
By March, Pateros Treehouse had secured government and in-kind funding for the bulk of the expenses to renovate a building purchased at a steep discount from the church.
The non-profit had just days left to raise the $110,000 in matching funds required to receive a $540,000 early learning facilities grant from the state Department of Commerce, said the announcement.
Tenneberg wrote a letter to prospective donors and heard back April 6 that the three businesses would donate all the money needed to meet the grant requirement by the April 15 deadline.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was hoping for any donation, no matter how small. Not in my wildest dreams did I think it would equal the entire amount needed by April 15.”
Since then, Pateros Treehouse has received more than $20,000 in additional donations from other local companies, family and friends.
“The board is sincerely grateful to everyone who has so generously donated money, made in-kind contributions and volunteered their time to get the project this far,” Tanneberg said during the check presentation. “We also extend a special thanks to Chelan Fresh, Gebbers Farms and Apple House Warehouse for their tremendous support. Their philanthropic donation will help make the Pateros Treehouse Early Education Center a reality.”
The three “are proud to present this donation to the Pateros Treehouse Early Education Center in support of providing quality, child care for local families and their children,” said Cass Gebbers, who represented all three businesses at the ceremony.
With the matching funds now raised, the organization will complete the grant paperwork so renovation can begin soon. It is too early to say when the new center will open, and the group must still raise an additional $30,000 to meet its total projected budget, said the announcement.
“I felt this project was absolutely critical to our communities,” said Anders. “I couldn’t imagine closing our doors without somewhere for these wonderful families to go.”
During the past 24 years, ABC offered childcare and preschool for hundreds of children.
“We have seen parents in tears when they finally get a spot for their child,” she said. “Oftentimes they were on a waiting list well over a year. We even had a parent, who was trying to get pregnant, offer to pay for a spot immediately, to secure an open spot.”
“Seeing this project to fruition has been a long road,” said Dowers. “We have stayed open two years beyond our planned closure; however, it has been well worth it. We are incredibly appreciative and excited for all who have contributed and continue to invest in the Treehouse.”
According to The Center for American Progress, much of central Washington is a child care desert, where there are at least three children, 5 and under, for every child care slot. The pandemic has made the situation worse.