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Jackie Lujan | The Lighthouse Early Care and Education Center

After graduating from Thrive Network’s entrepreneurship program in 2020, Jackie Lujan opened The Lighthouse Early Care and Education Center on East Moreno Avenue in the city’s Southeast. The learning-focused day care offers flexible scheduling for children ages 2 to 12. A mother of three herself, Lujan says her decision to go into child care was a calling from God — and today, despite her own personally challenging journey, she is preparing to open a second facility at the Pikes Peak United Way Family Success Center on Verde Drive. 

How did you get started in child care? 

I was in a season in my life where I felt like I had more purpose than just clocking in, clocking out and collecting a check. I’m a woman of faith, and I decided to pray on it. I asked God, ‘What is it that you want me to do? Where do I belong?’ My husband and I were driving one day and he said, very randomly, ‘Babe, I think that maybe you should start a school.’ I just looked to him like he was crazy. The only experience that I have with children are my three. That’s it. … So I prayed on it. And I asked God to give me a confirmation if this is really what I should be doing.

About two weeks later, I just clocked out from work, and I turned on the news — mind you I do not watch the news very often — but there was a breaking story about a woman who was caught with a false wall in her child care center [that allowed her to hide children] in her basement. She was taking in more children for this child care center than she was licensed for, and they reported it.  

That was enough for me. I believe that confirmation sparked something inside of me that wanted to pursue a child care center. If there is anything that I do know how to do, it’s to provide a safe and loving atmosphere for my children. All God’s doing is using me to provide that for other people’s children as well.  

Talk about opening The Lighthouse? 

[2021] was a very hard year for my family. I was hit with three really close deaths. My little brother had passed away at 30 years old in November. That was a very hard hit for me — I didn’t know how to handle it. Two weeks later, my father-in-law passed away, and then about a month later, my husband’s brother was killed. It was just back-to-back funerals for us.  

I was destroyed emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I decided to go to bereavement therapy.

Then around February-ish [2022] I told myself, ‘You know what, you need to get back up. This is not the life that you were called to live. You need to pull yourself out of this some way, somehow.’ I decided to lean on God for the strength that I needed in order to break loose from everything that was holding me down from pursuing the future that I was committed to living.

Always make sure that you have a vision, over an idea.

I decided to start getting really serious about the funding part of it. I sold my house. That was our only option. That was our skin in the game. It was a huge leap of faith to really prove to God that we’re in this. If God says this is gonna work, and this is something that he wants us to do, then we’re gonna do it. And so we sold our house.  

We were able to [cover] all of the startup costs, luckily. I was posting a lot on social media about it. You know, ‘I need you to donate your time. I need a plumber. I need a painter. I need anything at all that can you do.’ A lot of people really reached out to me and donated their time and we got it done.  

Now that I’m in business and we’re operating, I’ve had the chance to take a step back and reflect really on everything that I have gone through. It’s pretty crazy when you actually give yourself that grace to sit down by yourself and [process] everything you’ve gone through. It’s like, ‘You got this.’  

You’ll be opening your second location soon at the Family Success Center. Tell us about that.  

The Family Success Center offers adult educational classes, [English as a second language] classes, business classes, and all the services are provided to the community for free. A lot of these families have kiddos that they have no choice but to bring into these classes, because they don’t have child care. That’s where we come in. We now have a licensed child care center over there that we’re finishing putting together. We are going to have three classrooms and about 45 spots available. We’re super excited. 

Talk about your journey as an entrepreneur and your time with Thrive Network. 

It was really hard for me to break that employee mindset and jump into an entrepreneur mindset. I had to do a lot of research. … I threw myself in the Thrive Network program. They’re a very supportive group, and over time they became family. They’re just a phone call away and they make it very evident that you can reach out to them if you have any questions. They have a lot of credit here in the community, so when you say, ‘I’m a Thrive graduate,’ it automatically gives you a green light. … We’re all connected on some level, and it feels good to know that I have that tool in my back pocket at all times in case I do need anything. They’re there to help me or connect me with whoever can.  

Do you have any advice for new business owners in Colorado Springs? 

Always make sure that you have a vision over an idea. If this is really something that you want to do, then pursue it and do whatever it takes in order for you to get it established — but if it’s something that you’re just pondering, then sit on that for a little bit. Always make sure that this is exactly what you know you should be doing, and then put a little skin in the game. I feel like planting those seeds is very wise — because if you don’t believe in it, then why should anybody else?

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