SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Coworking and drop in childcare center Work and Play has announced its closure as of June 5. 

Owner Deborah Winikoff Engel released the following statement via Facebook:

It is with great sadness that I announce that Work and Play will be closing our doors to coworking and childcare as of June 5th. While I still wholeheartedly believe in the concept, I don’t see a way to continue the model while keeping our staff, members and families safe in this COVID-19 reality.

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Never in a million years would I have imagined going from celebrating five years to closing in just four short months. While yes, I am heartbroken, I am also hopeful. While our business model may be changing, the relationships and networks built are here to stay.

Many of the Work and Play alumni have reached out, and reading so many words of gratitude like this quote-

“...What you built in Work and Play singlehandedly allowed me to go back to work from maternity leave in a way that served our family in the best ways and allowed me to thrive in my career (vs drowning with the addition of another little one to care for)...“

- proves that we accomplished our mission of supporting the pre-COVID working family. Our work in examining the intersection of work and family is not done. It is just this particular model we are putting aside for now.

I wish I tracked how many new businesses started within our space, how many scaled while they were with us, and how many parents we helped support while they balanced work and family. There were many. Some of my closest friends have come from our community, and I am so appreciative of all the people I’ve met and relationships I have formed. Special shout outs to Sarah McNamara, who has put her heart and soul into running this little dream of mine, Amy Howlett, who I first met at Work and Play and then co-founded General Store Cooperative with and all our staff and educators who engaged our children and helped teach independence and creative thinking.

So what’s next? The building at 19 Prospect Street will be converted to social distancing private offices. It lends quite well for this, with four entrances, four bathrooms, three HVAC systems and four separate outdoor spaces. Personally, I will continue the advocacy work I’ve started since the shut downs and will continue to support entrepreneurs and small businesses with consulting work and with the General Store Cooperative. I hope to also explore new childcare models to make it more accessible and affordable for all.

To all the hundreds of people who walked through our orange doors - thank you for making Work and Play the vibrant community it was. Thank you for sticking by our side the past two months, as this health crisis descended on us, and thank you for all the friendship and support you’ve given us over the past five years.

This isn’t goodbye, it’s a new start. Please stay safe and keep in touch.

 

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