Woman’s 35-year ministry with Wee Care kids to be honored

For 35 years, Linda Smith has been caring for children at Wee Care Day Care Center where she has seen generations come through the doors. But this Sunday, First Baptist Church of Brookhaven will have a farewell party for Smith who recently announced she is retiring.

The reception will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the fellowship hall of the church.

Smith had several little visitors during the interview for this story – children who wanted to hug her neck and tell her goodbye. That made her cry a little.

“There are lots of those precious moments over the years with children who’ve come and gone,” Smith said. “I have children now whose parents came here, and now they are binging their children.

Linda Smith

Linda Smith

“That’s something special, too, that mothers and daddies have such confidence in us that they want to bring their kids here. I feel like they are my family, and my grandchildren. Some out-grow us and move on, then there’s a whole new batch of children to love that comes in.”

Smith said taking care of children isn’t for everyone, but it has been her purpose.

“It has to be your heart and your calling,” she said. “This job can be very

strenuous; it can be emotionally draining, it can be very tiring, but I love it. If you love little children, then Wee Care is a great place for you to be. There’s certainly never a dull a moment. There’s something happening every day. With 135 children there’s rarely a quiet moment – nap time if you’re lucky.”

Smith continued, “I have mixed emotions about leaving, but it’s time. I’m 68. And, we are moving to Sumrall to be closer to two of my grandchildren. We want to be more involved in their lives, and it would be very freeing to be able to be there for them when they need us.”

Smith said Kathy Moore is taking over her position, and she feels she is leaving the center with good people.

“That’s the only way I can [retire] in peace – that I know I’m leaving this in good hands. And, my assistant Sarah Oberschmidt, who’s been my assistant for 13 years, she is very capable and she will remain as Kathy’s assistant. We’ve been a solid team, and we do what needs to be done and they will, too.”

Smith said Moore taught at Wee Care for several years and then went to teach kindergarten and first grade at Mamie Martin. The two taught together in 1980 at Wee Care.

Smith said she, Moore and the staff at Wee Care see this work as more than just a job.

“It’s such a special place to be,” she said. “It’s a ministry, it’s not just a daycare. We love little children in the name of Jesus, and for his glory and it’s for His sake that we make Wee Care what it is – a ministry to love little children.”