The Hive, 127 W. Columbus St., is a staple for local children, providing students in grades K through sixth with food, clothing and a safe place to spend time after school. Director Kim Jackson has managed The Hive for nearly four years, providing and enhancing creative experiences for the children that decide to participate.
Jackson explained she got the idea to develop The Hive after working with adult drop-in programs in Hocking County. Jackson wanted to create a similar concept, a safe place to create connections, but for children.
“The whole idea is for them to have a place that provides them an opportunity for possibilities that would otherwise not be available to them,” Jackson said, adding that the program is entirely free and just requires one-time permission from the child’s parent or guardian. “I create an environment and then how we engage is based on the individuals who choose to participate. We really do take that to heart… The voices of the kids that come into our space are really what determines what we do.”
Once registered, the children are free to come and go as they please. Unlike a daycare, it’s entirely voluntary. Jackson explained they try to create opportunities and activities to keep the children engaged, offering special trips and activities or workforce development for older children.
These activities can vary from hiking to watching movies to organized arts and crafts activities. Jackson’s most thankful for The Hive’s partnerships with other Nelsonville organizations, because they give The Hive the opportunities to provide these activities.
“We work with everybody in Nelsonville,” Jackson said. “The beauty of that town, everybody holds hands over there. We’re close with the library, Nelsonville Emporium, the Rotary, Stuart's Opera House, Hocking College… It truly does take a community to make a strong community.”
The Hive also offers food to children that don’t have access to adequate nutrition, outside of providing daily after-school snacks.
“Some kids do express that they may be experiencing some food insecurities,” Jackson said. “We do provide some opportunities to bridge that gap for them. We provide basic snacks — a nice protein, some fruit.”
Dottie Fromal, an employee at The Hive, believes every day is a little bit different because they never quite know what the children will be interested in. Fromal said they are certainly an arts-based organization, always providing some sort of arts and crafts.
“Generally, the kids come after school and there’s always some fresh food on the table,” Fromal said, describing a normal day at The Hive. “We have an organized arts and crafts activity or a Lego challenger or a walk around town or something planned every day. But the kids aren’t required to participate. They’re welcome to just come and sit and read a book or do their homework.”
Parents of Nelsonville are grateful for The Hive’s existence because of the convenience it offers the local area. Amanda Decker of Nelsonville has one son and two daughters that have been part of The Hive for two to three years. Thanks to The Hive, her children have been able to go camping, go to the pool and even go to basketball games.
“My son’s older and he tends to want to roam the streets and stuff, but it gives him something to do,” Decker said. “I don’t have to worry about him getting in trouble. It provides food and something for the kids to do so they’re not running around in the square or going into abandoned buildings.”
Decker especially appreciates The Hive because of how much work the staff puts into creating beneficial experiences for the children. Decker has seen The Hive open on a few Saturdays, when it isn’t normally open just because children were running around in the square. She explained The Hive just purchased a building right across from the city pool so that children will have direct access to the pool and park in the summertime.
“There’s also a little place for free clothing there,” Decker said. “She provides socks and underwear if they have an accident or need dry socks. I’ve seen them do a raffle for bikes, I’ve seen them help repair kids’ bikes. They have a small washer and dryer there so they can dry the kids’ clothes... Because some of them will come in there sopping wet. I think it’s a wonderful place.”
The Hive is open from 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. More information can be found on the Facebook page.