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The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children's Resource Center To Open at Bonnet Springs

Located in the heart of Lakeland, The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center had it's sneak peek event on Tuesday, October 25, celebrating with founders and members of the United Way of Central Florida Leadership Giving Association. The Children's Resource Center is a community-based learning and resource center that provides classes, playgroups, workshops, developmental checkups, community activities, and support for parents and caregivers of children ages 0-6, as well as for expectant moms and dads. Formerly Family Fundamentals, this move and rebranding will add more programming and feature more exposure to the community at large.

Founded in 1995 by Carol Jenkins Barnett, former director of Publix Super Markets Charities, and spearheaded by United Way of Central Florida, the Children's Resource Center was developed to help make early childhood education a top priority in our community.

Those in attendance were members of the Barnett Family, Polk County Clerk of Court Stacy Butterfield, Mayor Bill Mutz, members of the United Way Leadership Giving Association and the United Way Board of Directors.

The Children’s Resource Center's goal is to provide a collaboration of organizations committed to strengthening families and our community by increasing access and awareness to resources and services. Under United Way's Early Childhood Education Initiative, the Children's Resource Center features partner agencies as well as in-house programming from United Way of Central Florida. Partner agencies can offer services on-site to provide a one-stop opportunity for parents and caregivers.

Success By 6 Director, Gretchen Ceranic

"One of the many things that we do is provide weekly classes at our site," explains Success By 6 Director, Gretchen Ceranic. "We provide support groups, parenting classes, summer camps and tutoring. The space at the park will allow us to offer some new programming such as a sign language class and a breastfeeding support group."

Parents and caregivers of children age 0-5 are welcome to come to classes for free. Participation is limited so sign-up is required, with registration opening up one week prior to each class. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and individuals may stop in for resources, sign up for classes or ask questions. Class times vary, beginning on November 7. For a full list of the resources available and a class schedule, visit their website at

As the late Carol Jenkins Barnett said, "There are no other issues more important to the future of our state than a quality early childhood experience for all children."

"We look forward to having a more visible presence and getting to know the community of residents around Bonnet Springs Park," shared Ceranic. "Our goal is to help foster the growth of happy, healthy children and families."

Board Chair Ashley Bell Barnett expressed heartfelt excitement and a call to the attendees, “In the past my mother-in-law Carol has been quoted saying, ‘We have a diamond, let’s make it shine.’ And that is what I feel this is in our community. This is a diamond. It’s time for all of us to rally around and make this center shine.”

The Children's Resource Center invites the public to stop by their Open House on Friday, November 4 from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for their first day of classes on November 7.

For those looking to support the new Children's Resource Center, there are several naming and sponsorship opportunities.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorships or donations can be made here or by emailing Katherine Fitzwater.



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