Renovations almost complete

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Renovations to the former Wrights Grocery Store — the soon-to-be home of an expanded STEPS Incorporated’s Head Start program in Victoria — are set to conclude soon.

We anticipate renovations completing in the next two weeks,” said STEPS Vice President Early Childhood Education Jessica Lehman. “Our opening date will depend on the availability of (the Department of Social Services) to get our license done.”

Seven new jobs are expected with the expansion of the Farmville-based organization in Victoria. The announcement came in mid-July.

“We are excited to be expanding our Head Start program in Victoria,” said Lehman during an earlier interview. “The old Wrights Grocery Store is currently under renovations. We will be operating two Head Start classrooms serving a total of 32 students ages 3-5, and one Early Head Start classroom serving four students ages 6 weeks to 36 months.”

“Over the past three years, STEPS has expanded our service delivery systems to focus on improving self-sufficiency and reducing poverty in our region,” said Sharon L. Harrup, STEPS’ president and CEO in an earlier interview. “Our programs will have a direct impact on the individuals, families and communities

we are entrusted to serve. These programs are delivered under four pillars of service: economic development, workforce development, housing and education. As a part of our education pillar, STEPS is pleased to expand our quality Head Start services to Lunenburg County children and their families. We believe that to positively impact poverty, we must begin with the child through a multi-generational approach.”

According to Lehman, the expansion into the former grocery store “will allow us to bring Early Head Start to Lunenburg County, which excites us greatly. We are building out the center with the hopes to continue expanding services over the next five years.”

She said STEPS values its partnership with Lunenburg County Public Schools “and appreciates them allowing us to be housed on their property for many years. This move will allow us to provide early childhood education and interventions for infants and toddlers, which is an underserved community in Lunenburg County. We are also enrolling participants for our Expectant Mother’s Program in Lunenburg. This program provides prenatal and parenting education to mothers and families with babies on the way.”

According to Lehman, the move will create seven new jobs in Lunenburg to include a bus driver, bus monitor, kitchen aide and four new teaching positions.   

According to Lehman, during the last school year, STEPS served 17 children in Lunenburg County. “We are very excited to be serving an additional 19 children for the 2017-18 program year.”

Lehman said the the funding allowing the expansion s part of STEPS’ original grant award from the Office of Head Start. “They provide startup funding for new grantees to use as they implement programs. “Early Head Start was not previously in our service area so we received funding to be able to obtain facilities that would accommodate infants and toddlers.”