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January 4, 2021

JCCC partners with the Kansas City YMCA to provide childcare for community

Although traffic is limited on campus, Kathy Rhoades, JCCC Public Safety Officer, is still keeping busy. Lately, Officer Rhoades has been monitoring a different group of students from the traditional-aged Cavaliers. Now, it’s children ages 5 to 12 from four different school districts!

JCCC recently partnered with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City to provide a location for its new Y Academy on campus. This daily program, a combination of childcare and education, embodies the "community" in community college.

Transforming Spaces

The YMCA requested large classrooms as well as access to outdoor space. Enrichment activities beyond the classroom are part of the well-rounded learning experience this program provides.

To accomplish this, Jeff Hoyer, JCCC Executive Director of Space Management, worked with campus scheduling personnel and the JCCC Police Department to identify the best areas on campus to hold the program.

"A block of four rooms on the main level of the Carlsen Center (now the Midwest Trust Center) was seen as the most desirable for its isolation from the bulk of our credit students, and because it was near the Virginia Krebs Community Room. That room, which has a separate side entrance, was determined to be a key factor in this program. It allows for easy and safe pickup and drop-off of the kids, without interfering with our regular campus traffic,” said Hoyer.

Officer Rhoades Steps Up

In order to control the flow of traffic at pickup and drop-off each day, Officer Rhoades took charge and gave direction with the goal of making it as easy as possible on the parents.

“My favorite part was seeing how excited the children were to return to a learning environment and to be with their friends. While meeting some of the parents, it warmed my heart to hear what a stress relief it was to be able to continue working without worrying about childcare,” she said.

After traffic duty, she would watch over the YMCA staff and children as they switched classrooms and took bathroom breaks to ensure they were getting where they needed to be. 

The Soft Side of the Badge

Officer Rhoades’ stern ability to direct traffic and her more soft, patient side when dealing with the YMCA kiddos was noticed by many.

“She had quiet, but confident, command of the situation and made staff members feel very comfortable. But with the kids, she had a mom-like welcoming energy that was just terrific,” Hoyer said. “Many parents were extremely concerned with dropping off their young kids. Officer Rhoades’ cool and confident control helped ease their worry.”

Parents weren’t the only ones feeling emotional as they dropped off their children on an unfamiliar college campus in the middle of a pandemic. Officer Rhoades admits that she had mixed emotions.

“When I saw the children being dropped off each morning, it brought tears of joy to my eyes to see their smiling faces. When they were picked up at the end of the day, it was sad knowing how disruptive the pandemic has been in the lives of families. I’m grateful that JCCC offered our campus to serve as their temporary home during the pandemic,” she said.

Holding On to Hope

Like many, Officer Rhoades is eager and hopeful for things to get back to normal. Through it all, she says, her heart goes out to other essential workers.

“I especially look forward to the day when all frontline workers and first responders can have some relief and get the rest they deservingly need.”