Parents, staff and children alike remember Yeva Unger, an infant care teacher at the JCC for nearly 25 years, in the same way.
“She was like a bubbe to everyone. She was just so soft and kind,” said Melissa Youngblood, Early Childhood Education director.
Unger retired suddenly this past year in order to care for her ailing 95-year-old mother. While she may be gone from the infant room, she’s not forgotten, and parents who miss her dearly want to ensure her memory and spirit remain part of the program.
The Early Childhood parent committee is planning to dedicate a corner of the infant room in Unger’s honor. Called “Yeva’s Corner,” it will be filled with cuddly, comforting items for the children. The committee has set a $5,000 goal for the project.
“We wanted to honor her years of service,” said Nikki Grizzle, a JCC member and mother of two in ECE. “I am thankful every day that my daughter had with Yeva and I am sure there are hundreds of parents throughout the community who would agree.”
Grizzle said Unger made it easy to take her kids to J-care each morning.
“It wasn’t like turning her over to a day care worker. It felt like turning her over to a member of the family,” Grizzle said. “She was everyone’s grandmother. She touched everyone’s baby who came there in the same way.”
Unger said she was touched by the effort, especially in what has been a hard year for her. Her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and her mother was hurt in a fall.
She now has two grandchildren to dote on, but misses her job immensely. “I miss being there so much, I have tears in my eyes,” she said.
Unger, 65, said she has always loved children and grew up taking care of her neighbor’s kids in Moldova, a small Eastern European country once part of the Soviet Union.
She moved to Louisville with her family in 1980 and started at the JCC as a manicurist. She began caring for infants part-time and adored the job so much, she transitioned to full time.
She grew up in a loving family, and that’s where she gets her soft touch with children, especially babies.“I feel like I was loved and I wanted to give that to someone else,” Unger said said. “Babies are supposed to be loved.”
Donations for “Yeva’s Corner” may be sent to the JCC at 3600 Dutchmans Ln., Louisville, KY 40205, attention Melissa Youngblood, marked for “Yeva’s Corner.” Contact Youngblood at 238-2148 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.