Day care directors decline offer to keep center open

NASHUA – After brainstorming for more than a week, the Salvation Army found a way to save the Greater Nashua Child Care Center.

The GNCCC board of directors wasn’t interested.

On Friday, the Salvation Army advisory board told the GNCCC board of directors that it could raise the funds needed for the center to open as usual Monday. The board decided to remain closed.

“It was all set to open (Monday) and our board of directors put a stop to it,” GNCCC bookkeeper Linda Grant said.

The center announced its impending closure on Oct. 19, citing long-term financial problems. At the time of the announcement, the center provided subsidized day care for 65 children. When it permanently closed its doors Friday, 15-20 children had not yet been placed in other day care programs, Grant said.advisory board member Mary Ann Picard organized a committee of city officials, state Rep. Pamela Price and fellow board members to brainstorm ways to keep the center open.

Picard, whose father helped open the GNCCC in 1969, did not want the city to lose one of its three state-assisted day care facilities.

The committee developed a plan to pool city resources, community support and Salvation Army funds to keep the 2 Shattuck St. center open for one to two more months. After that period, the Salvation Army would take control of the GNCCC and move it to the Salvation Army’s 1 Montgomery Ave. location, Maj. Carl Carvill said.

By Friday afternoon, the Salvation Army had raised $3,000 of the $25,000 needed to keep the center open for the next one to two months and had informed GNCCC employees that the center would open on Monday. Mayor Bernie Streeter pledged $1,000 from the Mayor’s Fund for Nashua’s Future, and Picard and Bonnette Real Estate and Triangle Credit Union also gave $1,000 apiece.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, city officials and Salvation Army advisory board members released the details of their plan to save the GNCCC from closure. They said they were certain they could collect enough grant money, city and federal funding, and public donations to keep the low-cost child-care center in operation.

The committee planned to ask community members to donate money toward the center, while the Salvation Army prepared the new GNCCC location for the children.

When Grant learned of this plan, she said she immediately called four employees to ask them if they wanted their jobs back and informed parents that their children could return to the center Monday.

Around 6 p.m. Friday, Picard and Grant said they received calls from Steve Donohue, president of the GNCCC board of directors, saying the board had decided not to accept the offer.

According to Picard, Donohue said he personally supported the plan but could not get the other board members to agree with him. Picard said Donohue told her the other board members weren’t interested and wanted the agency to dissolve.

Donohue told Grant that board members didn’t want the children who had already been placed in other centers to be removed from those programs, Grant said.

Reached by phone, Donohue said he could not comment on the situation.

Grant said she is upset with the decision and concerned about families who now have no affordable childcare.

Picard said she still hopes Donohue will convince the GNCCC board members to reconsider.

“I’m hoping he reconsiders over the weekend and we can go ahead with the proposal,” Picard said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t.”

Carvill said even if the GNCCC closes, this experience has proved to him that there are a lot of children in Nashua who need day care and don’t have access to it. He said the Salvation Army will continue to work to provide affordable childcare.

“It (the closing) is a sad thing but it doesn’t really change our position at this juncture,” Carvill said. “We’ll be moving ahead.”