Keith Memorial United Methodist Church’s Keith Children’s Academy (KCA) program was awarded a grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ (TDHS) Tennessee Community CARES Program on Friday, Sept. 4.

The Tennessee Community CARES Program was created by TDHS along with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group to invest $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds. These funds are to be used in the ongoing effort to address health and economic needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a news release, “Keith Memorial UMC’s Keith Children’s Academy’s purpose is to provide children with the opportunity for their own social, emotional, spiritual and developmental growth with a planned program in a nurturing, Christian environment. It is the intent and purpose of the entire staff to foster and appreciate each individual child’s natural curiosity, creativity and ability.”

Parents, especially those who are essential workers, rely on KCA for its Monday, Wednesday, Friday Preschool Program and Tuesday, Thursday Parents’ Day Out Program.

“Keith Children’s Academy is thrilled to receive the Tennessee Community CARES grant for our childcare program!” said Tracey Hicks, director of Keith Children’s Academy. “This grant will be used to assist us in purchasing PPE due to COVID-19 and purchasing iPads for virtual learning and contact tracing. It will also help to fund extra staff due to lower classroom ratios and extra cleaning procedures. KCA is a vital program for childcare in our area and parents depend on us for their childcare needs. We have been serving the community with our program for the last 30-plus years. We are beyond grateful for this generous gift!”

“The central window in our sanctuary shows Jesus welcoming the little children to come to him,” said the Rev. Dave Graybeal, Keith Memorial UMC Senior Pastor and Nourish One Child Ex-Officio Board Member. “The Keith Children’s Academy continues this ministry of Christ in showing and sharing the love of God with the children in our community. It’s a joy and privilege for Keith Church to be able to provide a safe space for children to learn, grow and play.”

“We are especially grateful for all assistance to be able to continue this essential program during this difficult and uncertain time,” said Lea Ann Arbuthnot, Keith Memorial UMC Business Administrator. “These funds will help transition the program to effectively follow new guidelines and protocols for safety and learning.”

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