Odenton children getting new home away from home Kickoff: Epiphany Episcopal Church breaks ground today for its $750,000 children's center -- part of a $1.55 million building plan.


Epiphany Episcopal Church, a congregation of about 75 middle-class families in Odenton, is launching a $1.55 million building project today that begins with the construction of a $750,000 children's center.

The congregation has raised and pledged $250,000 to begin construction on the 4,400-square-foot center to be built on church grounds a block from the Odenton train station off Route 175.

Bettye Woodruff of the Maryland Committee for Children, Michael Fox of Odenton Town Plan Committee and County Councilman Burt L. Rice are expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. today at the church, which RTC was built in 1917.

"In World War I, the big social need was to provide a place for people to come together to say goodbye," said Rev. Phebe McPherson, the rector, who added that the church was built to accommodate soldiers leaving from what was then Camp Meade.

"It was a home away from home," she said. "What we've identified now is the need for a home away from home for children."

The children's center is the first phase of the church's $1.55 million construction plan that includes building a community center with a kitchen and expanding and refurbishing the 81-year-old church building.

In addition to the money pledged by Epiphany's parishioners, the church has borrowed $500,000 for the project, hoping to coax that much from corporate and private sponsors to settle the bill. With the mortgage taken care of, the church could subsidize students' tuition at the center and progress with plans to expand the church.

"Our goal is affordable child care," McPherson said.

Church members began talking about a children's center about four years ago when they were considering the need for space for members' children. As the conversation continued, members became aware of the need for child care in the community.

About 16,000 housing units have been built in nearby Piney Orchard in the past 10 years. And while Odenton has long been an area targeted for growth in the county, it lacks services such as child care, shopping and entertainment.

"Odenton is not a rich area," said Joe Gill, project coordinator. "Today, most parents need to work. They need a place that's close by, that's accessible, where they can get excellent care."

The center, along with the other buildings in the development plan, is designed to complement the batten-board flavor of the 81-year-old church, but it calls for tall windows and heated floors. Two playgrounds, one made with natural mounds and dirt tunnels, will surround the building along with a garden, where the children can grow vegetables.

Landscaping around the facility will be a "BayScapes" project using plants and shrubs native to the area to promote wildlife. The county also has applied for more than $300,000 in state Smart Growth money to build curbs, plant trees and place 1930s-style lampposts.

Child care providers will offer a full-day kindergarten class and other all-day programs for up to about 80 children.

As for the rest of the building project, the plans are preliminary and depend heavily on community and corporate support. But that uncertainty doesn't bother members of Epiphany.

"You proceed by faith," Gill said, "one step at a time."

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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