Donation of $30,000 contributed toward effort to address region’s childcare desert.
LYNCHBURG, VA (July 19, 2022) – Columbia Gas of Virginia (Columbia Gas) together with the NiSource Charitable Foundation recently donated $30,000 to HumanKind, a non-profit human services organization, to support the creation of its Early Head Start (EHS) Center in the City of Lynchburg. The center is one of three that HumanKind has opened to address the region’s need for sustainable access to quality childcare and education for infants and toddlers.
“Columbia Gas has a long history of serving the Lynchburg community, starting when we were known as Lynchburg Gas,” said Columbia Gas President and COO Brent Archer. “The mission of HumanKind’s Early Head Start Center to provide much needed childcare and early childhood education to the Lynchburg area aligns with our priorities for community involvement, especially in one so important to our employees who work and live in Lynchburg.”
The need for childcare is dire in areas such as the city and Lynchburg, and the Amherst and Bedford communities that are considered to be a childcare desert—a community where there is only one space in a licensed childcare program for every three or more children. Furthermore, approximately 1,135 children and their families are living in deep poverty, defined as 50 percent of the federal poverty level.
EHS programs have a proven history of improving outcomes for the children it serves. Children who complete EHS programs and continue to formal early childhood education tend to have better outcomes at the start of school. Three-year-old children show significantly better cognitive, language, and social emotional development by the end of the program.
Parents or caregivers of participating children also will benefit from the program as well by receiving free, wrap-around services such as assistance finding safe housing, employment coaching, mental health services and healthcare. Access to the Center means that parents will be able to find jobs, return to work, train for better jobs or simply move from part-time-to full-time positions.
“Early Head Start is not a typical childcare center in which parents simply drop off in the morning and pick up in the evening,” said Ashley Graham Director of Family & Children’s Services with HumanKind’s Early Head Start Center. “Here, children are connected with their own teachers while at the same time parents are connected with their own Family Support Staff who listen to them, hear their stressors, strengths and goals and support them in achieving their dreams for their family. Parents were considered in every aspect of this facility’s design.”
In addition to providing natural gas service to nearly 290,000 customers across Virginia, Columbia Gas donates its time, talent and more than $350,000 annually to charitable organizations that share its mission of meeting basic human needs. As part of that effort, Columbia Gas supports many organizations that aid during times of individual and community crisis, including local food banks, relief agencies and emergency responders. Columbia Gas supports organizations that focus on safety, economic and workforce development, environmental stewardship, STEM and energy education and basic needs and hardship assistance.
For more information on how Columbia Gas of Virginia serves its communities, please visit https://www.columbiagasva.com/our-company/about-us/giving-back.
About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia delivers clean, affordable, and efficient natural gas to more than 283,000 customers in more than 100 communities across the Commonwealth. With headquarters in Chesterfield County, the company is one of NiSource’s six regulated utility companies. NiSource (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.2 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. More information about Columbia Gas of Virginia and NiSource is available at www.ColumbiaGasVA.com and www.nisource.com.
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