|The builder/educator’s (Bellomo’s) turned their skills to childcare, a personal passion of Nancy’s. A concept drawing that Bellomo drew was placed on their bedroom dresser. Every morning they would see the drawing and it motivated them to turn their dreams into reality. The Black Forest Building Company team built Nana’s – a Growing Place, in 1991 after years of dreaming and planning.
The space was designed with the personal touches you would find in your home. Before the first shovel broke the ground, a hand- picked team of sub-contractors were selected for their excellence in their chosen trade, and also for their sensitivity to children. Bellomo empowered every person involved to work as if they were building for their own children or grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. They were asked at the beginning of the task from foundation to fence, roof to rhododendron, if they saw a way to make the space more child-friendly and safe.
With that spirit, many heartfelt stories of soft music playing, flowers in the garden and always something good to eat in the kitchen, were shared among contractors, as Nancy’s childcare center was built. Building with them added a dimension of freedom that began to influence Tony’s future work. The children loved it. The parents often commented on the loving care that went into each detail of the structure.
Lawrence Technological University commented that the child safety features incorporated in the design were commendable. The City of Troy awarded the outstanding building of the year to “Nana’s”. The Bellomos realized that good childcare was elevated to new level when the buildings purpose addressed the needs of the family.
A second childcare center evolved into a family care center. With multi-use zoning in place, the property encompassed a small restaurant, bank, Laundromat, drycleaners, convenience store clothing resale shop, hair salon and an insurance provider. With these services readily available, the working parents were able to pick up dinner, drop off laundry, get hair styled, do their banking and pick up diapers in one stop. As primary childcare providers, the intent was to offer a time saving convenience center so the parents may have more quality time with their child to read a book or play in the park.