Prince Street Daycare celebrates 33 years serving the community

Published 9:54 am Friday, September 22, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Sept. 15 was the anniversary of a long, tedious project that was started in 1990 by residents in the Prince Street Neighborhood.

The aim of the Prince Street Project was to bring an old decaying school building back to life for community use. The Prince Street Project community workers worked long hours trying to clean up and paint the old, dilapidated school building that was in great disrepair.

The building was being used by drug dealers, drug addicts, and homeless people who came from other areas of Natchez and Adams County.

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The neighborhood had become a dangerous place to live and raise a family. Drug deals were being made on every corner all day and all night.

“Our neighborhood was the hub of drug activities and place for undesirables,”  said Barbara Crenshaw.  “With gunshots fired throughout the day and night, my neighbors, other homeowners and I just didn’t feel safe in our homes anymore. So we banned together to take our community back and to clean up the old, abandoned Prince Street School.”

The group of locals worked many long hours through the week and on weekends trying to clean up the trash and debris in the building. When they first started to tackle the problems , it seemed like an impossible task. Peeling paint had fallen off nearly all the walls. Drug dealers and addicts had left evidence of their activities by leaving drug paraphernalia throughout the building. The stench from feces and urine was in nearly every corner of the building and the classroom areas. When the building was back in decent shape, basketball goals were put up on the newly surfaced playground.

The playground was then opened daily from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from noon until 7 p.m. on weekends. All the rehabbing of the building and playground area work was done by volunteers from the neighborhood. The former school opened its doors as a tutorial center and community playground.

The community of volunteers and neighborhood activities decided to add a daycare center to serve the children in the area.

“Initially, we were licensed to serve 50 children at $7 per day. Down through the years, we were able to grow from a capacity of 50 children to 218,” said Crenshaw.  “Although we rarely get over 120 daycare enrollees, we have the space to accommodate 218 children from the ages of 6 months to 12 years of age.”

The COVID 19 Pandemic hit the daycare and community center hard and they are still trying to bounce back from it.

“We continue to be dedicated to the welfare of and care of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and after school children who need childcare services and childcare away from the home.” Crenshaw stated. “We offer a full curriculum for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. We use the Frog Street Curriculum for early childhood education. It is one of the best curriculums for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.”

Prince Street Day Care operates under the umbrella of the Prince Street neighborhood project.

“We provide an emotionally secure and physically safe environment for the children in our care. We strive to develop the whole child and our mission is to provide high quality childcare and early childhood education to our community’s youngest and most vulnerable children.” stated Crenshaw.