When it comes to running a business in the age of COVID-19, it's abundantly clear that "we're not in Kansas anymore." And when it comes to daycare openings in Bend, suffice to say that finding a place to take your child is like going toe to toe with the Wicked Witch of the West.
Plenty of businesses have seen their operations upturned—or shuttered all together—due to the virus. Things are definitely upended at the Cottage Day Care, but as a business serving the children of essential workers, they haven't had a single day of closures, said Sue Stendahl, owner and founder.
"You look at all the controversies around reopening schools—but we never closed, for even one hour," she said. In March, the Cottage, open for 42 years in Bend, saw its numbers dwindle from 82 kids to just 12. Slowly, they've added back their numbers, all while installing a pure air filtration system for the building, installing plexiglass dividers, adding in new sanitizing protocols and checking kids' temperatures as they arrive for the day.
"Physically, it's just a lot more work to sanitize on an hourly basis. Mentally, it's a lot more worry," Stendahl said.
But beyond the current crisis and the additional work involved, Stendahl believes the reason the readers of the Source continue to vote for the Cottage as Best Day Care is the personal relationships she, along with her daughters, co-owners Haley Stendahl and Hannah St. John-Stendahl, and the rest of the team form with families.
"We have many second-generation families," Sue Stendahl said. "We've taken care of, like, nine people from the same family. It's relationship before business. So, if a family is struggling financially, we don't make them pay. Or if there's a medical crisis, we help out."
2nd - Growing Tree Children's Center