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New Infant/Toddler Center being constructed in Eureka

EUREKA- A new Infant/Toddler Center is being constructed in Eureka.

The Westside Community Improvement Association is collaborating with the Redwood Community Action Agency and the College of the Redwoods to build the new center at the Jefferson Community Center.

"When we have reached out to the neighbors in the past and asked what the needs in the neighborhood are, infant/toddler care and child care have always been at the top," said Heidi Benzonelli, the President of the Westside Community Improvement Association.

The center could be open by next fall and will include an area for naps as well as indoor and outdoor play areas.

"We've been working with North Coast Children's Services, with the state compliance officers and with the local community to make sure this is the best place we can have for an organization to come in and run infant/toddler care," Benzonelli said.

"If we give great support to children of the youngest ages, it has determining factors for the rest of their lives.  So it's really important to get a good start at the very beginning, to have health care and prenatal care and so forth makes a difference as you go along," said Richard Evans, the Vice President of the Westside Community Improvement Association.

Westside Community Improvement Association officials say having CR students do the construction is beneficial.

“We are just paying for the materials and all of this labor is coming from them.  It's an incredible community effort in that sense," Evans said.

The CR Construction Technology Department usually spends the year building a single-family residential home.

"Certainly, building this building, the community center, is a bigger, larger, heavier, more complicated than the typical house that we would build.  So it's certainly challenging for me and the students compared to what we would typically build in a house," said Ted Stodder, a professor with the CR Construction Technology Department.

Students say they are proud to work on something the youth of the community will be able to use day in and day out.

"It makes a difference for kids to have a good facility, a clean facility to work in and learn in and play in and nap in so it's way different than just building a house for sale, which is awesome.  But to know that as I drive by, lots of kids are going to be using the space, it just warms my heart," said Anartis McKarral, a student with the CR Construction Technology Department.