Loving the little ones: Healing Waters Daycare opens its doors

Healing Waters Daycare, in the planning stages for nearly two-and-a-half years, is finally rockin’ along — literally, with staffers gently rocking little ones deep into their afternoon naps.

“It’s amazing what God can do,” said Healing Waters Ministries Pastor Tony Garris, sitting amid cribs, raccoon wall stickers and more a few days ago in the church’s sprawling 7,200-square-foot space in a section of building behind the church sanctuary at 2330 Midway St. in Columbus. They still are planning signage for the building that once was the popular Nancy’s Nook and Nursery.

He and other church leaders such as daycare director Susie Kelley had envisioned this kind of service in December 2018, even before they realized the local community has long struggled with sufficient, affordable child care.

The doors opened days ago.

“It was a God thing,” Garris said in an interview two years ago.

Now he and his congregation are hoping parents seek them out for help for everyone from newborns to age 6. Kelley mentioned before that she aims for a nurturing atmosphere “in a safe environment where we can teach kids things like right from wrong, how to share and show them positive ways to relate to others.”

Garris believes that if staff perseveres with the vision of the child care center, “then I don’t see how it couldn’t be successful.” The daycare accepts child vouchers.

Dad Aaron Sprong, who attends Northview Church, picked the daycare for his 15-month-old daughter Ellie.

“The reason we wanted this one is that it’s a faith-based organization,” Sprong said. “And we feel it’s very important to have a place like this for children to grow spiritually and to have a good, Christian foundation where they can learn Scripture.”

Garris is hoping that the church can find ways to help families who come to the daycare, especially because local businesses donated everything from paint to carpet for the facility. Garris has been passionate about finding ways to help others, including the homeless, the addicted, and others. He feels compassion for others because he says Jesus dramatically delivered him from depression, drugs and alcohol in 1995.

“I want to see people get help,” he said. “Once you’ve been through something like that with drugs, alcohol and mass depression, you just want to love people.”