ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County parents working overnights now have a place their kids can stay and remain safe.
Although it opened last week, the ceremonial ribbon was snipped Tuesday morning in front of Over The Rainbow Child Development Center on Biltmore Drive.
The Richmond County Chamber of Commerce, state and local dignitaries and other community members joined owners Iris and Robert McRae for the ceremony its new location, which will be open 24 hours a day.
Chamber Director Emily Tucker said dropping off a child at daycare for the first time can be a “scary moment” for a young parent’s life, but said the McRae’s have been in the business for a long time and are trustworthy.
“Great things are in store for them here at this facility,” she said. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”
After the ceremony, Robert McRae led Commissioner Tavares Bostic and Hoffman Councilman Daniel Kelly on a tour of the building, showing them the different rooms and other facilities.
Iris McRae started her home daycare business on Ledbetter Road in June 2004.
She said they’ve had the current building, which formerly housed other daycare centers, for seven years and they opened the doors on Jan. 21 — doubling the enrollment in just one week from 24 to 50 children.
The daycare employs 15 workers, including Director Debra Gould.
Iris McRae said she was inspired by other 24-hour providers in nearby counties, including the Rev. Purnell McQueen in Robeson County and Angela Robinson in Laurinburg.
Chamber Past Chairman Ken Hartley of Therafirm, and others, noted that the turnout for Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting was the largest for a small business.
“I’m sure that’s a reflection of the appreciation everyone has for you guys,” he said.
Hartley also thanked the McRae’s, as did representatives of Walmart on Perdue Foods, for offering the 24-hour child-care service.
“For those of us, like at Therafirm, where we operate a business 24 hours a day, having the childcare opportunity to support the workers, I think is just phenomenal,” he said. “You’ve got a service here that I’m sure is going to be utilized again and again.”
Rockingham Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson applauded the daycare’s mission statement to “provide the highest quality of care and education for young children.”
“There is no more important job … than taking care of the education and welfare of young children,” he said. “And to do it for 24 hours a day, that is such a service to the families of Richmond County, not all whom who work 9 to 5 … People need the kind of service you all provide.”
Recently elected Commissioner Dr. Rick Watkins said he’s driven by the facility frequently and has “watched with great anticipation all the hard work that you’ve put in.”
Other elected officials included state Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, who delivered the invocation; and state Sen. Tom McInnis, who presented the McRae’s with a North Carolina flag that flew over the state capitol.
McInnis, in his pastoral tone, said the McRaes had persistence in making their dream a reality, despite the many roadblocks they encountered along the way — including getting the building up to code and meeting all the requirements.
“They could have thrown up their hands at any moment, they could have said, ‘No, we’re not gonna do it, we’re gonna quit …,’” he said. “But that’s not what they did. They persisted. They had perseverance and tenacity. They stayed the course.
“And the reason they did that,” he continued, “because (of) the vision they had and the need for this community for the service that they’re offering here today.”
McInnis went on to say that parents who work third shift “need a place that’s safe, secure, that’s protected — and that’s what this facility offers.”
The McRae’s installed a security system that triggers an alarm and announcement if the doors are opened once the alarm is set. There is also video surveillance all around the property.
“Every worker who works here knows one thing: if that buzzer goes off, you better get that child or you don’t have a job,” Robert McRae said. “That child has no business getting out at night, but if he does get out at night, you don’t have a job here. We spent all this money to make sure your child is safe here.”