RICHARDSON, Texas -- The moving boxes were being packed even though their destination was unknown. Despite the questions they were facing, spirits remained high at Read, Play, Love.
“I’m just trusting that we’re going to go right where we need to be,” said Marney Makridakis, founder and director of the children’s theater group and community center in Richardson.
Over the next few days, they will figure out how to move a 10,000-book community library and a 2000 sq. foot children’s theater because they say they no longer feel safe in their office park location.
“Within just the past couple weeks, there has been some theft and some crime including stealing the copper wiring, which has left us without air conditioning for the summer,” said Makridakis. “When you have crime issues in the complex and leaks in the ceiling, it’s not a healthy or safe environment.”
“If it was just me, I could handle it, but when you have 60, 70 or 80 little kids, it’s not something I’m comfortable with," Makridakis said.
Makridakis said their lease was going to end in August, and they were already considering a move, but now their timeline is moving much faster than planned. Because of that, the move is underway, even though they have yet to find a new home.
“Well that’s where the community can help,” she said with a smile. “We’re putting a real positive spin on this for the kids because, of course, the kids follow our leads. So, we’re making it very clear that we’re moving on to something great. We just don’t know what that is.”
Makridakis hopes a church or community center somewhere in North Texas will offer some space to share, soon.
“We have summer programs. We’ve got musical theater productions and camps and classes that have already been schedule, and in fact, summer is our busiest time, and we depend on summer for our annual budget,” she said. “The majority of our annual revenue comes from summer months. So, right now, we’re looking for a temporary space, whether that’s one day a week or two afternoons a week, we can be really flexible.”
“Maybe there’s a way we can share our resources like books and props and educational material with someone who has facility space.”
Makridakis said her center attracts a large number of children who are homeschooled, including 10-year-old Jacob Hadar.
“This place means the world to me,” he said. “I just started homeschooling, and I love this place. I love theater and I feel like this is a place where I can be myself. I’ve made some of my best friends here.”
Ava Donaldson, 10, agreed. “I love it here. The plays are so much fun,” she said. “You just get your moment to shine.”
Makridakis hopes the children learn a lesson from this – to have faith that the show will always go on.
“Everything we do here is about education, play, creativity, expression and at the very heart of it it’s all about empowering kids. To me, this is a place where kids can feel great about themselves, feel awesome about who they are - the gifts they have, both discovered and undiscovered, and also their capacity to make a difference in the world,” she said. “We want to build kids up. so they know they can make an impact, to know that their voices matter. That’s what we are all about.”