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Our story begins over one hundred years ago, 1894 to be exact when Utah was still a territory. The children of the less fortunate needed food, clothing, care and guidance. Emma K. McVicker, a former teacher in the Presbyterian schools, dreamed of alleviating these social issues when she conceived the idea of opening a public kindergarten. Mrs. McVicker and a dedicated board of trustees made this dream a reality.
The goals of the organization, then known as the Free Kindergarten Association, were “to provide instruction for underprivileged children to commensurate with instruction given in more favored districts; to become better acquainted with parents in poorly regulated homes; to raise the standard of living; and to provide, when necessary, food and clothing.”
During the first years, new services were added. Such as a milk station which dispensed free milk, set up at the request of the State of Utah. A public playground open to the children and youth of the neighborhood; bathrooms open to the public for free baths. Americanization classes offered to the increasing number of immigrants in the community; an employment bureau for women seeking work. There were general neighborhood gatherings held in the evening offering lectures, music and literary entertainment.
Neighborhood House exemplifies the ideals of a settlement house. A house with friendly neighbors and a center of information, organization and services. A center which connects the neighborhood to the cultural