Rocky River: Daycare owner helps parents with job interviews

12:35 PM, May 18, 2011   |    comments
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ROCKY RIVER -- For parents who are out of work, it can seem like an impossible problem to solve: How to interview for jobs when you can't afford to pay for your child's daycare.

One Ohio woman is on a mission to change that.

Stella Moga-Kennedy arrived in America from Romania in 1979 with no money, no home and no knowledge of the English language. She started a daycare center, Le Chaperon Rouge, in the basement of a small church.

"You Americans, you allowed me to be whatever I wanted. I wanted to become a success," Moga-Kennedy said.

Today Le Chaperon Rouge has nine locations and serves almost 1,000 children in Northeast Ohio.

Moga-Kennedy says she's seen the struggle families have with finances in this economy.

Parents like Liz Monahan, whose two children have attended Le Chaperon Rouge.

Monahan has been fighting cancer for six years. She works full time and her husband did as well, up until 2009.

"My husband called me at work one day and said, 'I'm packing up my desk. There's been budget cuts.' He'd been laid off," Monahan said.

No longer able to afford care at Le Chaperon Rouge, the Monahans were thinking about pulling their daughter from the program.

Though that created another issue for them: With Liz working full time, who would look after their child while her husband interviewed?

"Where are you going to take your kids so you can go do that job interview, or go prepare to get ready for it? Do what you need to get back on your feet?" Monahan asked.

Moved to tears by the situation of families like hers, Moga-Kennedy told the Monahans not to worry.

"Go and do the job interview, and let me take care of your child," she said.

Over the past 30 years, Moga-Kennedy has provided over $500,000 in child care services free of charge to parents that are looking for jobs.

She's offering free child care at Le Chaperon Rouge for parents who are actively seeking jobs, and have interviews lined up. She's also helped people outside of childcare.

Katheryn Womack is a single mother who also happens to be fighting cancer. She works full time today, but after her diagnosis, she had to quit work for a while.

It became difficult for her to afford the tuition at Le Chaperon Rouge, where her two daughters are thriving.

"They are so happy here. There's just no place like this," Womack said.

Moga-Kennedy helped Womack keep her daughters enrolled. The generosity moves all three women to tears.

"I'm very fortunate to be able to give back. For the rest of my life, this is my mission," Moga-Kennedy said.

REPORTER'S NOTE: The free tuition is temporary, just for the day parents have a job interview scheduled.

Parents need just provide proof of a job interview, such as an email from a potential employer, as well as their child's health records if they're in need of childcare help.

Moga-Kennedy says, from the bottom of her heart, she wants to help as many people as she can as they look for work.

You can learn more about Le Chaperon Rouge by clicking on the links attached to this story. You can also learn about Stella Moga-Kennedy's book, "Stella's Way."


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