During World War I, women began assuming roles in industry as men were called to military service, and they needed a safe and affordable way to have their children cared for while they worked. The Ladies of Charity of Evansville responded to the need by establishing St. Vincent’s Day Nursery in 1918.
Within a few months of St. Vincent’s start, the Ladies of Charity were unable to accommodate the huge demand for service, so they appealed to the Daughters of Charity at St. Mary’s Hospital to manage the agency. While our founders, the Ladies of Charity and our sponsors, the Daughters of Charity, are no longer involved in our day-to-day operation, their values permeate our mission and both organizations continue to support our work.
Today high-quality early education is needed more than ever with the increase in single-parent and dual-earner households. And today as in the past, St. Vincent Early Learning Center remains faithful to addressing that need for our community’s families.
The Ladies of Charity identify the need for childcare for women entering the workforce during WWI. They focus on establishing a day nursery and host fundraisers to support it. Father Frances Ryves at Assumption Church offers the vacant house next to the school building for the day nursery’s temporary location. John Fendrich and his sister furnish and fully equip the nursery. St. Vincent’s Day Nursery opens on November 18, 1918 with 2 employees and 17 children. Tuition is 10 cents per day.
John Fendrich and St. Mary’s Sisters of Charity purchase the old Kratz place at 517 Bond Street to serve as the new location of St. Vincent’s Day Nursery.
John H Fendrich and his sister Mrs. Daniel McCarthy give the Heilman Home, located at 611 N First Avenue to the Sisters of Charity to be used as St. Vincent’s Day Nursery. $15,000 in renovations is completed and on September 22, 1931, we open at the Heilman Home. Daily attendance averages 75 children.
St. Vincent’s Day Nursery is incorporated with the State of Indiana as a charitable non-profit organization.
Through Catholic Charities, St. Vincent’s Day Nursery becomes a member agency of the Community Chest (now United Way of Southwestern Indiana). In 1939, the total organizational budget was $9,800.
The carriage house behind the Heilman Home is converted into a playhouse. It is called the “John Laura Building” after John Fendrich and Laura McCarthy, who paid for its renovation.
St. Vincent’s Day Nursery held its very first Advisory Board meeting. Average attendance is 127 children and the annual budget is $59,714.
The Heilman Home carriage house is demolished to accommodate the building of a new facility, which will contain classrooms, offices, and a kitchen.
St. Vincent’s purchases the Bristol Myers building (formerly the St. Mary’s School of Nursing). A major renovation is completed in order to expand services to infants and toddlers. Construction includes connecting the building to the center’s main building.
The organization is renamed St. Vincent Center for Children and Families, achieves accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Level 4 on Paths to QUALITY, Indiana’s voluntary childcare rating system.
The Daughters of Charity / St. Vincent Center for Children and Families hires the first lay person to serve as Executive Director. Average enrollment is 140 and the annual budget is $2.1 million.
We celebrate our 100th Birthday, and complete a rebranding to fully capture what our organization does. This includes our new name, St. Vincent Early Learning Center, and logo.