When kids walk through the doors of her day care center, Sheryl Ponce says she treats them like her own two boys. When they’re sick, she said, that means she also feels their pain.

When Garrett Rangel attended the day care center, he suffered from cancer.

“Every day, I would sit and rock him to sleep,” Ponce said. “I would rock him in my husband’s grandmother’s rocking chair. I would just pray that he would be healed, ‘God take his cancer away from him.’”

Today Rangel is a healthy senior at Calallen High School, where he plays on the football team.

His mother, Lisa Garza, thanks Ponce for her attentive care during this time.

“That was one of my favorite memories,” Ponce said “He’s still one of my kids.”

In the 25 years since Kids Day Care Center first opened its doors in Refugio, Ponce said she’s watched the many children grow up.

“Golly, time went by so fast,” Ponce said. “I look at all the kids I had and some of them have kids of their own now.”

Her business celebrated its 25th anniversary on Aug. 14 as it prepared for its fall class, which began this year on Aug. 26.

Ponce’s continued service is a relief to parents like Claire Wendell, whose daughter, 3-year-old Cora, just started her second year at Ponce’s day care.

“Without her, I’d have to rely on someone to watch my kids out of their house,” Wendell said.

Although Wendell said there’s one other day care business in Refugio, Ponce’s has been around the longest and has the largest number of children.

Before she opened her own business, Ponce worked for several years at another day care in Refugio. In the almost 30 years she’s worked in child care, the biggest change have been in the rules and regulations mandated by the state, she said.

“We’ve had a lot of rule changes with the state, licensing and things like that,” Ponce said.

Although state regulations lowered ratio between children and caretakers over the years, Ponce said her goal has always been to provide personalized care.

Another big change?

Ponce has to fight to keep technology out of the hands of children – and her employees, she said.

“The most important thing is having good staff,” Ponce said. “Honest people are very, very hard to find.”

Morgan is the business reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at (361) 580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or @mcohanlon.

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Morgan covers business for the Victoria Advocate. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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