pictured above: the beautiful owner of Nanny’s Nook Michelle Frazier
When Michelle Frazier was a little girl she would run to school 74 every day. “I had this awesome teacher, Rose Hargrave. I will never forget her. She told me that I was valuable, that I was smart, that I was beautiful, so I would run to her every morning because she filled me with what I needed.” “As I grew up I said ‘I want to be just like her.’ I wanted to make children feel the way she made me feel…valued!”
Today the proud owner of Nanny’s Nook Quality Day Care Center located at 1495 Jefferson Avenue, is doing just that, and more. The visionary young entrepreneur’s passion and dedication to providing a nurturing, educational foundation and a positive quality childcare experience for children, is coupled with her love for the Hamlin Park community she was raised in.
Michelle has been in the business of empowering children and families for 21 years, and at the Jefferson Avenue location for the past seven. Her journey began as a New York State Licensed Group Family Childcare Provider. She recalled her grandparents – Samuel Ralph and Emma Hemphill – telling her about how they had to go to a schoolhouse to learn. “So I set my home day care up like a school house!” she said, where children’s learning was of the upmost importance.
Over the years she earned her Certification in Child Development, received a scholarship from the Child Care Coalition of Niagara Frontier Inc., and a special invitation to participate with Quality Stars of New York, a partnership that assisted her with free training, college assistance and quality improvement planning. In November of 2013 she took a leap of faith and purchased the former day care center which currently houses Nanny’s Nook, “with zero funding from outside sources and zero money owed.”
When she bought it, she not only had the vision of expanding her Home Daycare business, but being a part of the area’s revitalization and stabilization . “The building had been sitting vacant for four years and there was so much that needed to be done,” she recalled. “We had little to no money left after the purchase, so we had to be creative. My children and I rehabbed the building ourselves.”
She also had to be super resilient. “I worked 80 hours or more a week while taking college courses towards my bachelor’s degree. I had also taken on the task of expanding my business.” It was not easy. But on July 3, 2014, Nanny’s Nook was fully licensed and open for business. “The following year, we erected our playground after investing $17,000. Again – with zero funding from outside sources.” -Expansion- There’s a lot going on both inside and behind the neat beige building on Jefferson near East ferry where Michelle and two of her four outstanding children – Brandon and Sharell- pour their heart and soul into the development of the children left in their care day to day.
Colorful and well equipped infant, toddler, pre-school and school age children’s rooms currently accommodate 32 youngsters. They accept children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old and have a maximum capacity for 40 children. Michell affectionately refers to them all as her “babies.” Adorning one of the walls are glowing letters of praise, appreciation and thanks from parents; letters which she says humbly, are “worth more money than I’ve ever earned.”
The atmosphere is warm and inviting . Nanny’s Nook is named after Michell’s late mom who she described as an endearing, special person. “My children called my mom nanny and she was always there for her grandchildren,” she said.
During a recent visit to the facility, Michelle shared her excitement about the day care center’s expansion plans. In a very real sense her role in the revitalization of Jefferson Avenue started when she invested in the purchase of the building and fixed it up. The center’s mantra speaks to the totality of its purpose: “Involved to evolve our community.”
“This is our vision,” she said pointing to the architectural drawings on the wall, “ and it’s happening!” “I’ve invested over $300,000 in this project.” The money she said has come from loans she’s taken out and a few small grants. The expansion will not only help the center, but the community, as child care is an essential business which impacts children as well as their families. Improving and enhancing the building will help instill pride and beautify the neighborhood.
Behind the center, considerable construction has begun. The end result, she says excitedly, will be the addition of a two story building which will include more classrooms, bathrooms, a Gross-Motor room, a parent resource room, a conference room for staff training and a much needed main office for herself.
The project, which was delayed a year due to the pandemic, is expected to be completed within six months.
Michelle recalled how she had to be innovative with expansion plans because the property owner next door did not want to sell. Determined not to let anything stand in her way, she had her 3-car garage razed, the center’s playground dismantled (it will be put back up after construction is complete), and even paid to have tree’s taken down so the expansion could go forward.
Her passion and enthusiasm is impressive.
“I still get excited every morning when I unlock my door,” she said. “I show up and I show out …I pour (love and learning) into my babies everyday.
“I know our program has made a difference in so many families lives…so many children’s lives, and I know they will carry and pay it forward.”
Michelle says she’s “fighting the good fight” every single day. “I do it to make a difference.”
“This building represents something serious,” she concluded. “It’s the future.” -Staff Writer