Unearthing a time capsule

Published 10:31 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

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Children’s Center items pulled out after 25 years

Twenty-five years after a time capsule was buried in the front lawn of The Children’s Center on James Avenue, former and current board members, parents, teachers and children of the child care center on Friday unearthed their buried treasures.

The time capsule was buried in 1996 in celebration of when The Children’s Center paid off and its mortgage was burned, thanks to a large community capital campaign.

Mary Jo Dorman, who headed up the capital campaign and was on the board at that time, said board members canvassed business to business throughout town and raised $350,000.

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She said she was most nervous about asking then Albert Lea City Manager Paul Sparks for the city to contribute $50,000. Sparks and many others, however, recognized the importance of the center to keeping employees in the community.

“He said, ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?’” Dorman said.

Before the current James Avenue location was complete in 1991, The Children’s Center was at the old Oakwood School and a few churches, said Dorman and some of the others present at the opening of the time capsule. It also had a location at Riverland Community College until 2009 and still has a satellite location at St. John’s Lutheran Community off of Minnesota Highway 13.

Dorman, and other former board members Pat Blake and Bill Howe, lifted the time capsule out of the hole it had been buried in and then took out the contents to show those who were in attendance.

There were children’s clothes that were popular 25 years ago, something to represent each classroom in the center, as well as items such as a bottle, examples of reports that staff would fill out each day for each child in attendance and two VHS tapes.

While some of the items were wet, several were in good condition.

Blake said bringing out the time capsule and looking at all of the items that were inside brought back a lot of great memories.

“This place was an awesome opportunity for children to prepare for school,” she said. “It was the whole package, and we were so happy to have been a part of it.”

Jen Levisen, who is the current board president, said bringing out the time capsule was a great way to celebrate all that the center has done through the years. Several also recognized the support The Children’s Center continues to receive.

Brenda Reed, current co-executive director, said the teachers want to try another time capsule in the near future.

They planned to learn from their successes and failures from the capsule 25 years ago and how to best preserve the items within.