Group raises $100,000 to renovate child development center

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Some major changes coming to a south Richmond institution which helps working class families. In tough economic times, one group has managed to raise $100,000 to help renovate the Southside Child Development Center.

With one dig of the shovel, 100 women will make a difference in countless children's lives. Talley Baratka is with the fundraising group impact 100 Richmond.

"The goal is very simple, to get 100 women to give $1,000 each to pool funds to provide a transformational grant of $100,000," she said. "It's very grassroots. It's really been just people talking to each other and it snowballed."

The transformation of the Southside Child Development center started Saturday. The school provides childcare and education specifically for working class families on a sliding payment scale. But with a facility that dates back to 1954, that mission has proved more and more difficult. Sheila Pleasants is the executive director.

"Too much of our day-to-day operation monies have to be put into the building and not enough in the services and programs that we are allowed to offer," she said.

So we wanted to know exactly where this money will go and what difference it could make. Pleasants gave us a tour starting with the roof.

"Snow and ice sets on it and that makes for leaks inside the building," she said.

Contractors will revamp the downhill setting to avoid flooding.

"This area we are usually on big rain days, lifting children and taking them out and handing them to parents so this area we're looking at upgrading to get rid of that piece," she said.

The windows and doors are also problem, needing improvements to keep kids safe and make the building more energy efficient. The 40-year old electricity system will get an upgrade. The same goes for the kitchen. And the effects go far beyond the cosmetics of the building.

"When I feel safe and I'm not worried about being chilly or cold and I'm getting that bright sun through the windows that only adds to my vigor to learn," said Pleasants.

The construction should be complete this year. The organization is hoping to raise enough money to give two $100,000 grants this year. If you'd like to help, visit

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