by Susan Marquez
Clint and Donna Nicholson never planned on going into the childcare business. “We both had other jobs, but God had different plans for us!” Clint grew up at Kid’s Connection, the daycare center his parents, Glen and Shirley Leach, started in 1986. “They started with five families,” says Donna. “By the next year they had filled up and needed to expand. In 1991, they built a new building that would grow the business into the future.” Today the center cares for 145 children.
Just nine years old when Kid’s Connection started, Clint had a natural understanding of how the business worked. By 2006, his parents began talking about retiring, but they just couldn’t find the right buyer. They mentioned to Clint that he may want to take over the business.
“That was not at all on our radar,” laughs Donna. The couple each had jobs totally unrelated to child care – Donna has a degree in interior design. But they prayed about it together and Donna says God gave them a number to offer for the business. “When we sat down with Clint’s parents, they told us the number they’d like to get for the business. It was the exact same number we were going to offer.” That was the affirmation they needed to know they were doing the right thing in quitting their jobs to run Kid’s Connection.
Clint and Donna took ownership of the business in January 2008. “It’s been the biggest blessing to us,” Donna says. “We love everything about it.” Donna grew up in Florence, and says that she was never really around younger children. “All of the kids in our family were around the same age, so I had no experience in caring for younger children. What I learned when coming here is that I love it. I can be silly and have fun with the kids, which is so much fun!” The Nicholsons have two children of their own, an eleven-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. “Our son is already doing a little work here after school, like changing air filters and such.”
Kid’s Connection was founded on Christian principals, where children are loved and cared for, and encouraged to grow as unique individuals. Children at the center range in age from six weeks to twelve years. There is a learning program for each age level. They use the A Beka preschool curriculum, incorporating songs, games, art, Bible stories, and hands on activities to help children develop the skills they need to be successful.
There are five classes at Kid’s Connection. Infants range in age from six weeks to twelve months. Children in the Creepers/Toddlers class are twelve months to two years. Preschool is from two to five years. The afterschool program has children from kindergarten to 12 years of age, and when school’s out, the summer program also has children from Kindergarten to age 12. In the summer, children can enjoy the Kid’s Connection swimming pool, which has a lifeguard on staff. “We also offer swimming lessons in the summer,” says Donna.
Many of the children at Kid’s Connection have parents who attended the center when they were young. “It’s fun for Clint, who grew up here,” says Donna. “He knows many of the parents from when he was a child at Kid’s Connection. And several of the people here have been here twenty to thirty years, so they have seen a second generation come through. Our director, Tina Taylor, has been here for 32 years.”
Kid’s Connection serves families from the Richland and Florence area, as well as some from Pearl and Brandon. “This has been such a huge blessing for us,” says Donna. “I’m honored to be committed to a Christian-based daycare center. Through all kinds of obstacles, including COVID, God has been very faithful to us.”