The Children’s Center on Hilton Head Island celebrated its 50th anniversary at a luncheon Wednesday at the Country Club of Hilton Head.
A proclamation from Town Council cited its historic role as one the oldest existing nonprofits on the island.
The Rev. Isaac Wilborn, who cited a need for the center when he was principal at Hilton Head Elementary School, ceremonially cut a large birthday cake along with longtime employees Jannie Gadson, Barbara Chaplin and Marsha Jenkins.
When development brought jobs to Hilton Head more than 50 years ago, Wilborn told the community it had a problem with elementary students missing school to babysit younger siblings.
The response was a child development center on Matthew Drive, paid for by the public, driven by volunteers and offering care for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years.
In 2010, its new $4.5 million, 19,000-square-foot facility opened near Jarvis Creek Park, where parents still pay on a sliding scale according to their financial ability.
Town Council member David Ames, standing in for Mayor David Bennett, said, “I think we’re all drawn here today by that comment from Jerry Reeves: ‘Every child deserves a great start in life.’ ”
Ames led the capital campaign for the new center, and the late Jerry Reeves of Bluffton was a longtime board member and supporter. They were among a host of current and former board members and staff leaders honored by board chairman John Howe and center executive director Jody Levitt.