A new, brighter horizon for local child care center

Gary Lorio, October 16, 2019

Proudly showing off classrooms, art work and the playground, Melanie Holloway, owner of Brighter Horizons Child Care Center, is bubbling with joy. “Getting the key to the new building was a dream – I can’t believe it actually happened.”

Rewind to January 2017 and there was no happy ending in sight, only what looked like the end.

Watch the full Brighter Horizons story.

 

 

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Up in flames

A pillar of the Belle Chasse, Louisiana community for more than three decades, Brighter Horizons provided a loving, creative, environment for early childhood development.  

Then one winter night, it went up in flames.

“The building we had been in for years was burning right in front of us,” Melanie describes. “Huddled together, our staff cried.”

While Melanie put on a strong face for her staff and students she explains how she was terrified on the inside and not financially ready for what would happen next.

“We had a very successful business, we readily covered all of our expenses, but any surplus went back to creating experiences for the children with field trips, toys, and more,” she said. “At that point, the fear really set in, and I wondered ‘how are we going to do this.’”

Thanks to the outpouring of community support, Melanie was able to secure a temporary facility within 48 hours and maintain uninterrupted care for her nearly 100 students. Once the children and staff were settled into their new space, the real work began – securing a new long-term building.

After conferring with state officials, the fire marshal, and an architect, Melanie had an idea of what she would need and how much it would cost to secure a building of her own.

“We had been full to capacity for 18 years with a waiting list, and while we had a strong income, I was still worried “Was that enough for someone to believe in us?”

 

 

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A promise made and fulfilled

Local Hancock Whitney bankers knew of Melanie’s desire to build and approached her to help fulfill the dream.

“Rob and Amanda approached me and asked how Hancock Whitney could help. At the time, I was working with another financial institution, but they were moving very slowly and I never felt as if they believed in me,” shares Melanie. “I was blown away by Rob and Amanda’s authentic concern, when they said ‘We’re going to make this happen,’ for the first time I actually believed that it could be true.”

Throughout the process, Hancock Whitney ensured Melanie had the opportunity to share her dreams about the new center while keeping her up-to-date on every milestone of the financing journey.

“I cannot say enough about Hancock Whitney, they held my hand every step of the way and fought for me and what I wanted,” Melanie recalls.

After 18 long months, Brighter Horizons opened their brand new facility in late 2018 and Melanie breathed a sigh of relief knowing that her business would be around to serve second and even third generation Brighter Horizon students.

“I am staying in business because Hancock Whitney believed in me,” Melanie says. “We would be done if it weren’t for the fact that my bankers believed in us and worked very hard to make it happen for us.”