HARLINGEN —A door covered in bees that spells out “The best place to bee” welcomes the classroom where Yolanda Lara, 56, has been taking care of babies for the past 38 years.
Lara first started working at the Nazarene Child Care when she was 18 years old and was a senior at Harlingen High School. Lara said she planned to have a career that involved helping others but she never imagined it would turn out this way.
“Back then when I started working I had a mentor named Miss Richy and she taught me how to drive. I didn’t even know how but because of this job I learned,” Lara said.
“Back then we would take the babies and the 2-year-olds to McDonald’s or to the park and somehow we would fit them all in the car and now things are so different,” she said.
Lara had the 2-year-old class at the daycare for 20 years, and now she takes care of babies 12 months up to 2. Her duties include opening up the daycare in the mornings, having classrooms ready while she waits for the rest of the teachers as well as feeding them and changing diapers.
Nazarene Child Care soon became her second home, she said. Besides dedicating her life to the children, she also dedicates her free time to her mother.
“I wake up every day around 3 a.m. to take care of my mom and then come to open up at 6:30 a.m. every day,” Lara said.
“I enjoy taking care of her because parents are a blessing from God and so are the children I take care of. I love working with kids,” she said.
Lara has had the opportunity to take care of the children of adults that she used to take care of herself.
“I still keep up with kids I had in the ‘80s. They are glad I am still here and they are thankful, they always tell me,” she said.
Lara has also had to potty train and teaches Bible stories to her children, as well as numbers, shapes and colors. Sometimes she implements some Spanish as well.
Before beginning to work there, Lara’s father used to be in charge of cleaning after school. Lara also remembers attending the church service when it first opened in Harlingen.
At Nazarene Child Care, Lara is greatly appreciated, according to General Director Barbara Clay.
“Yolanda is awesome. We love her to death and she is the best worker we have ever had. She always volunteers to help and has great suggestions. She is a beautiful person. If she were to leave us I would cry.”