Jolanta Jakubiak-Matysiak arrived in America, from Poland, when she was eleven years old. She watched her mother work day and night establishing Turysta Travel on Nassau Avenue and when the time came, took over the business, helping to grow it into the most successful agency in North Brooklyn.
Like most entrepreneurs, however, Jakubiak-Matysiak, irrespective of her success, continued to seek new business opportunities. In 1993, after watching immigrant mothers, no different from her, working long hours without adequate child care, she established ABC Child Center, on the second floor above Turysta. The center, North Brooklyn’s first private daycare, quickly became known for its friendly atmosphere, including home cooked, European-style meals, attentive staff and an accommodating schedule, operating from 7:30AM to 6:30PM daily.
Last Sunday, surrounded by its current charges and their parents, ABC Child Center celebrated its 20th year with a birthday party at McCarren Park. More than 100 people attended, enjoying snacks, face painting, clowns and balloon animals. Like its first year, the kids were having a blast and parent after parent enthused about how much their children loved ABC. Jakubiak-Matysiak was on hand as well, but unlike 20 years earlier, it is now her youngest daughter, Violetta Horelik, running the show.
A management change is far from the only difference at ABC Child Care. Since taking over for her mother in 2009, Horelik has grown the business, with an eye on Greenpoint’s recent changes. Indeed, on a visit to the center, it was impossible to miss the diversity of the students, which reflects the whole community. “We only have one Polish teacher now,” Gorelik pointed out, emphasizing the center’s demographic shift.
The space remains bright and colorful with every room receiving abundant sunshine. Each is also equipped with iPads. Teachers e-mail daily progress reports to parents, as well as photos of their kids in action.
Home cooking has given way to healthy catered food. And the curriculum is now determined by the center’s dozen licensed teachers and teachers’ aids, under the guidance of Educational Director Eileen Zarcone. Every day has a focus, such as literacy, math or social studies, as does each month. The focus in October, for example, is fall. Students will go to the park to study leaves and trees, study apples and later pumpkins and wind up the month discussing each other’s Halloween costumes.
The biggest change under Horelik is similar to one her mother made 20 years earlier. Turysta was sold years ago and now operates on Manhattan Avenue. With the downstairs of the Nassau Avenue space available, Horelik developed ABC Infant & Toddler Center for ages six to 24 months, and opened it this summer in the former Turysta space. The new program currently serves ten kids (the maximum allowed under its license – an additional 32 spots are pending). ABC Child Center, serving ages two to five years maintains its limit at 45 children with a substantial waiting list.
Not everything has changed, however. “Above all, you need a home away from home atmosphere for the kids,” Horelik said. Just like the one created by her mother 20 years ago.
ABC Child Care
109 Nassau Avenue