Children’s Place celebrates Golden Anniversary with party at Mellow Mushroom

November 30, 2018

Children’s Place celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding with a party at Mellow Mushroom in downtown Aiken on Thursday.

Welcoming the guests was a beaming Peggy Ford, who considered the milestone a major achievement.

“It’s not every day when a nonprofit turns 50 in this day and age, when nonprofits live hand to mouth and it’s hard to make ends meet,” said Ford, who has been the director of Children’s Place since 1989. “I’m truly proud that we’re still here and still serving the original mission.”

Children’s Place provides therapeutic childcare and other services for troubled youngsters and their families.

When it was founded in the 1960s, Children’s Place was known as the Services Council.

“Children’s Place is kind of the foundation of a lot of work that’s done to help children in our community,” said United Way of Aiken County President Sharon Rodgers. “They help children with behavior issues and emotional issues, and they also serve to fulfill so many needs of families and parents. We are very blessed to have Children’s Place as one of the United Way’s more than 30 partner agencies. We wish them a very happy 50th anniversary, and we wish for them 50-plus more.”

The party’s attendees included Hayward Barnwell, a former president of Children’s Place’s board of directors and a longtime financial supporter of the nonprofit.

“It’s a very good organization because it does good things for kids,” Barnwell said. “I’ve seen success stories from Children’s Place where some of the participants in the programs who had problems went on to college and technical school. They graduated and they improved their lives.”

Nola Grant, who is a current Children’s Place board member, also was at the party. She is one of Children’s Place’s success stories.

Grant won the Miss Aiken County crown in 2011, and she was named Miss Black South Carolina in 2012.

She also was a talented athlete who played basketball at Aiken High School, Belmont Abbey College and USC Aiken.

Grant formerly was the City of Aiken’s human resources director. She now serves as the director of human resources for Swiss Krono USA.

“I attended an after school program at Children’s Place,” Grant said. “It kept me off the street. It helped me learn to deal with things. And it helped me to set goals. Without Children’s Place, I don’t know how my trajectory would have gone.”

Earlier this year, Children’s Place started a campaign, which is called Stand Up for Children, to raise money for a new facility.

An existing structure near the corner of Willow Run Road and Beaufort Street will be Children’s Place’s new home. But renovations and a lot of other work are needed before that becomes a reality.

The building has approximately 28,000 square feet of space, which Ford said Children’s Place desperately needs.

The campaign’s goal is $1.5 million, and so far, $1.277 million has been collected.

Pictures showing what the new facility will look like when it is finished were on display at the party.

“The goal that we set early on was $1.5 million, but we do hope for more,” Ford said. “With tariffs and the increase in the cost to build because of how long it’s taking, our cost probably will be more than $1.5 million.”

Children’s Place’s current headquarters is at 310 Barnwell Ave. N.E.

For more information about Children’s Place, call 803-641-4144 or visit childrensplaceinc.org.

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