Home Is Where the Heart Is

Photo courtesy of Pamela Marquis

I would never tell a mother that putting her baby in day care was a bad thing to do, but I must admit when I was a young mother, I was proud of the fact that my daughter never spent a day in day care. I secretly felt superior. And when my daughter had to make that decision and she chose day care, I felt sad. But here’s what I have learned over the past three years: my granddaughter is thriving in day care, absolutely thriving.

Part of the reason is this child is über-social and truly needs to be around others. The other reason is my daughter is blessed to have found a day care that goes above and beyond being simply a business; it’s a home away from home for its young charges.

That place is Kiddie Korner. It’s been at its Mid City location for 25 years, and Alison Kramer is the owner. She has a degree from the University of New Orleans in early childhood education, and she’s always wanted to do one thing: work with children.

“I was babysitting as soon as I was old enough to babysit,” she says. “I loved it. Day after day and hour after hour, I just love being with my kids.  So many of them I’ve had since infancy. Over the years it’s been so satisfying watching them grow and mature.”

This spring when some of the kids performed at the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo, Ms. Alison took time out to come watch them on a Saturday, and the moment she came on the scene, she was smothered by screaming children showering her with kisses, hugs and the purest of love.

Alison’s compassion is evident in her ever-present smile and her tender care. She often calls the parents on the weekend if a child leaves sick on a Friday to see if the child is feeling better. In addition, she regularly opens spaces at her center for children in foster care.

“The state doesn’t pay what my other clients pay, but it is so worth it,” she says. “Those poor babies.”

After Katrina Alison had one driving passion, and that was to get her center up and running. She knew how important it was for families to have a place for their children as they helped bring New Orleans back.

“It was a lot hard work, but we opened up in October,” she says. “I was so happy to have my kids back.”

Now, however, there is a great sadness at Kiddie Korner. One of the children is battling an aggressive form of leukemia. The Kiddie Korner crew deals with this challenge honestly, telling the children their friend is sick and helping them understand her absence.

And Alison and her five-person team find time to make blood donations and are gearing up to help even more when the mother loses her job. That will happen soon as her employer has only allowed her three months of leave, and this battle will take way more than three months.

“We are like a family finding ways to help one another,” Alison says. “This is happening to one of our own. And you take care of family.”

I no longer feel superior.  I feel deep gratitude that my granddaughter is in such caring and loving hands.

Shine a Light with Pamela Marquis illuminates the stories of those people who need a little recognition for the many ways they make New Orleans the best place in the world to live.