It is the year of women’s empowerment. Written in the headlines and throughout social media with #metoo movements and as seen at polling stations nationwide, women are taking a more generalized role as the gender in favor on both sides of the aisle. You can see it everywhere as a younger generation of females has complete freedom to celebrate their accomplishments and take on any challenge they see fit in their lifetimes. There are less barriers to success and ceilings are shattering everywhere. Locally, empowerment can be seen in all aspects of our lives from prominent female attorneys and physicians to business owners and leading philanthropists, assisting the less fortunate in the area in a myriad of ways. Such is the case with Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch owner, Marina Wolf-Schmidt.
Like many women, Marina ventured on to college as a young adult, receiving a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbia University. With a background steeped in Human Resources she spent several years as a corporate trainer. When her daughter was born, she realized how daunting a task it was to find proper childcare, one which would provide an educationally rich environment, yet would foster the child’s tender needs as a youngster away from parents for several hours a day. Returning full circle and utilizing the degree she began her career with seemed to be a natural answer. Additionally, Marina saw countless families underserved with proper childcare in her hometown of Lakewood Ranch. She realized she could fulfill an important need, not only for her daughter, but for an entire community. Ten years later, built on passion and hard work, she could not be prouder of the business she and husband have built.
When Marina and Bill opened Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch in 2008 their community embraced them with open arms. Lines were long with local residents gladly enrolling their children in a much-needed educationally-based daycare in East-Bradenton. Several amenities such as cameras so the parents could peak in on their children throughout the day as they desired, trained staff, and extras like parents’ nights out and book reading events helped them survive the recession that would ensue shortly after their doors opened. Though many families were forced to withdrawal their children due to financial setbacks attributed to job loss, Kiddie Academy rode the storm and realized they had a niche clientele in the area. Adding novel sanitizing systems like the newly installed ZONEO, which disinfects toys, tables, blankets, and even furniture at the end of every day has parents confident this year’s Flu season should be a non-event. Of the 248 daycare providers in Manatee County, Kiddie Academy is the only one that has national accreditation.
Throughout the years Marina has honed in on what her community needs, not just from Kiddie Academy, but on the humanitarian side of life. Stretching her efforts beyond her own affluent area to help people all around the Bradenton/Sarasota area, Marina has organized countless events to raise donations and money for children whose next meal is in jeopardy once the weekend arrives. Feeding Empty Little Tummies (FELT) has become one of Marina’s heart filled passions and she celebrates all those who helped with the recent movie night which raised $1200 for the cause. Also, in Marina’s database of groups she is continually helping, is Meals on Wheels, focusing on their infant program which ensures formula, baby food, wipes and diapers are provided to families who need the assistance.
In honor of National Women’s Small Business Week, Marina will be featured in the November issue of Scene Magazine along with several other prominent women entrepreneurs in the area, recognized for the courageous and meaningful work they do on behalf of their communities.
At Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch, the motto is “Community That Begins Here.” Marina Wolf-Schmidt has taken that saying to heart, instilling a sense of pride in her business ethics and pouring love and hard word back into the area she calls home. The Sarasota Post would like to congratulate Marina and the folks at Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch for their business acknowledgements and outstanding contributions they are making on behalf of the most vulnerable of our residents. For more information of Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch which serves children ages six-weeks to 11-years old, please visit their website by clicking here.
Photos courtesy of Kiddie Academy of Lakewood Ranch.