“He reminds me to read his ‘Baby Blessings Bible’
and pray when I turn off the lights for bed.”

Welcoming children in Jesus’ name has been a part of Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities’ heart since a Rescue Home was opened for young unwed mothers more than 100 years ago. More recently, the Mission opened its arms to children of women experiencing homelessness through our Child Development Center (CDC). Many of the young children served there find joy and healing from trauma through the skilled and tender care of the CDC teaching staff.

Founded in 1997, the Mission’s CDC provides early childhood education and care for children from six weeks through Kindergarten. Many of these children belong to mothers who have found shelter from homelessness in UGMTC’s Naomi Family Program (NFP). Others are members of the community, or continue to attend the CDC after their parent has graduated from NFP.

Nationally accredited and rooted in sound biblical teaching and principles, children that participate in the CDC programming tend to thrive, even if they weren’t doing so when they arrived.

Melissa Sonen, CDC director, loves to tell the story of a child that began attending the CDC as a preschooler.

“When he first came to us, he could not name a friend; he could not even name himself. When his mom asked him what his name was, he couldn’t tell her. He could speak words, but not very well.”

“He was with us for nine months and, by the time he left, could name each of his teachers, each of his friends, his mom, and himself. And he was speaking in sentences. It’s one of the stories I won’t forget.”

Another little boy began attending the CDC at the age of 10 months, when his mother enrolled in the Naomi Family Program after becoming homeless. The knowledge he’s gained after learning from teachers in the CDC over the last year, while still under the age of two, is notable: he can count to 30 in English (99 if numbers are pointed to) and to 13 in Spanish; knows the entire ABC song; can name a variety of colors and shapes; loves books and being read to; and sings a number of songs, including “The Lord is My Shepherd” and “Jesus Loves Me.”

Most meaningful to his mother—who says of her son’s accomplishments, “I didn’t teach him that!”—is his sweet love for Jesus fostered in school each day by the CDC teachers.

“At bedtime, he reminds me to read his Baby Blessings Bible and pray when I turn off the lights for bed. Our nighttime prayer is, ‘Lord, keep us safe this night; secure us from all our fears. May angels guard us while we sleep, till morning light appears.’”