In 1995 Otter Creek Church of Christ established a task force to find a better way to draw urban and suburban families together and to provide excellent academic, cultural, and social opportunities for at-risk and underserved urban children and their parents.
For 50 years, the church has been involved in a tutoring program with Youth Encouragement Services (YES) on Lindsley Avenue, just north of the Napier/Sudekum communities. Otter Creek began that tutoring program in the 1960s, as well as a Christmas Store, which continues to minister to all the children YES serves. As years passed, workers realized that the parents at the Christmas Store had been among the children who were tutored in those early years. The underlying problem of poverty had obviously not been addressed.
Otter Creek commissioned a task force to find a better way to attack the structures underlying poverty in Nashville. The task force concluded that early intervention in children’s lives and partnership with low-income parents were needed, and that Otter Creek’s own successful suburban preschool program could be replicated for urban children. In 1996 the task force presented this suggestion to the entire church, which wholeheartedly accepted it.
Members participated in planning, designing and equipping the facility. The Zoe Family Foundation—the S. D. Smith family—gave the initial grant of $125,000. Members pledged regular support and held fundraisers, including an annual golf tournament. Additional money came through grants from local foundations, including the Ezell Foundation, the Memorial Foundation, the Frist Foundation and MDHA. Terry Bates, a Nashville architect and member of the congregation, volunteered his design services for the building.
The Wayne Reed Christian Childcare Center opened as a state-of-the-art preschool facility in September 1998. Within two years, WRCCC received Tennessee’s highest ranking—a Three-Star Quality Rank—and the program has maintained that rank.