Room to Grow

Tenderfeet educates 100 children, with ages ranging from 3 to 8.  This includes two years of pre-Kindergarten up through third grade.

The dream of the Tenderfeet family is to continue to expand the school, both in the number of students as well as the grade levels.

Thanks to two special friends and two special organizations, this dream can become a reality.

The friends are Kathy Switzer with Century 21 Millennium (of Brampton, Ontario) and Michael Leahy with Children of Light (in Fairlawn, Ohio).

Because of these friends’ tireless efforts on behalf of Tenderfeet, and the generosity of these organizations, we have been able to double the amount of land the school can use.

In the short term, this land can be used for growing nutritious fruits and vegetables to supplement the feeding program.

In the long run, we hope to utilize this additional land to continue to add new classrooms for more kids and grade levels.

Kathy Switzer and Michael Leahy

Kathy Switzer (left) and Michael Leahy (right) made wonderful connections with the children during their visits to Tenderfeet

The background of how we got to this point is worth explaining.

We’ve known that this dream of expansion is something we needed to work toward carefully, because we must take care to always provide an excellent school experience for the students we are already serving.  Overextending ourselves could dramatically lower the quality of education provided for the students.

It’s important to keep in mind that since our budget is usually stretched to the limit, we have had to be cautious about any items — even small ones — outside the monthly operating expenses.

Adding more students would require extra teaching staff, increased food budget, as well as school supplies and numerous other expenses.

Land Survey

Land Survey showing first and second plots of land

But more than anything, expansion requires classroom space.  As it stands today, our current facilities are stretched to their maximum capacity.

The existing brick school building, sponsored by the Collette Foundation, has four large classrooms as well as storage and a kitchen.

We have also added a semi-permanent iron sheet building to serve as a fifth classroom (see the light blue building behind Michael in the photo above).

Because of space constraints and government regulations, we are not able to construct another brick building unless it is by adding levels (up to 2 additional) to the current building.

This is quite expensive and difficult.  We can add more iron sheet classrooms, but it would mean reducing the playground area. After all, the size of our current plot is only about 1/5 of an acre (0.09 hectares).

Consequently, our vision to expand the school to serve more students was critically limited by the space we had available and the ability to raise the funds for additional classrooms.

This brings us to October of last year.  I was visiting the school and discussing our dreams of expansion with Mama Margaret.  She pointed to the plot of land to the north of the school. In a wistful tone, she told me that land was still for sale.

It was being sold by the same landowner who sold us the land we currently had. The land was part of a larger plot that was subdivided by this landowner into three smaller plots (please see the survey photo above).

All of the other surrounding plots were selling for outrageous prices, but this man who sold us the first piece of land was willing to negotiate a better price with us. It was worth it to him because he knew from our first purchase that Tenderfeet was honorable and reliable.

However, at that time, it seemed completely impossible to raise the funds. As mentioned, it’s usually just a struggle to meet our monthly budget.

But in a series of events that seemed unbelievable at the time (and now as well!), Michael and Kathy contacted us and indicated a desire to provide the funding for the land.

After the funds were transferred, it still took several more months and a lot of work and legal/paperwork headaches for Mama Margaret, but eventually we were able to purchase the second plot a few months ago.

It was an extraordinary blessing by a group of remarkably generous people that enabled us to give the children of Tenderfeet more room to learn, play, and grow!

Tenderfeet Kids enjoy the new plot of land

Tenderfeet Kids enjoy the new plot of land

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