Amanda Collins and her children were like family to the FiveCAP Head Start program at Pere Marquette Early Childhood Center.
Amanda worked as a nutrition aid at the center, and the workers and their students are a tight-knit crew.
“She was a beautiful person,” said Mary Trucks, executive director of FiveCAP
Amanda and her 10-month-old Lillian Grace died in a car accident Wednesday on North Jebavy Drive and Amanda’s oldest daughter, Mady, age 7, is in critical condition at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, leaving the center and the community with a tragic shock.
Losing the mother and child and having such a serious situation with Mady has been devastating to friends, loved ones and to FiveCAP.
“It’s just left everyone in disbelief and hurting,” Trucks said. “There’s a lot of pain around here right now. It’s just sinking in.
Amanda had been at the FiveCAP Scottville office Wednesday the day of the accident, and Trucks said it was hard to believe how quickly a life can be lost.
“Our hearts go out to her family,” Trucks said.
Amanda made sure each of the 60 children in the program received breakfast and lunch at the school every Monday through Thursday, but she did a variety of other jobs, too.
“She was an integral part of our staff,” Trucks said.
She had worked at the school/center since 2011 and interacted with the children and rest of the staff every day.
Trucks was at the center Thursday to spend time with the staff. “There were a lot of shaking heads, sad faces and tears,” she said.
Sandy Gomez, center director/lead teacher, said Amanda was always filling in where needed.
“She would do anything I asked and would fill in and do things even when I didn’t ask,” Gomez said.
Amanda knew all of the children at the center and was great with helping wherever she was needed.
During parent meetings, when Gomez needed someone to watch the children, Amanda volunteered.
“She interacted well with the kids,” Gomez said. “She goofed around with them.”
The center staff not only knew Amanda, they knew Lillian, and know Mady.
“We’re a family,” Gomez said.
She said Amanda, a horse enthusiast, had just ridden her horse in the snow and was excited to share that adventure with the center staff and students.
“She was grinning from ear to ear,” Gomez said. “The kids were asking about the horse and she was just beaming. Who knew that night …”
Amanda was known as a tidy person in the center’s kitchen.
“You could go in our kitchen and everything was organized and labeled,” Gomez said. “We just had a kitchen inspection and were told everything was perfect. She did her job well.”
The staff of seven in the center’s FiveCAP program were close, talking about their children and bringing them in from time to time .
Knowing Amanda won’t be back, that they won’t see Lilly again, and that Mady is struggling is not easy for the crew.
“This is really hard … and we’re struggling,” Gomez said.
The staff did not tell the students what happened, leaving the decision to their parents about what was appropriate to share.
The kids went about their day Thursday as usual, with one child asking where Miss Amanda was.
Having the children there and helping them through their day helped the staff get through their day, too, their first without Amanda.
See related story at http://ow.ly/topUK
The obituary for mother and daughter is now available. It's shown here and at http://www.shorelinemedia.net/ludington_daily_news/news/obituaries/
Amanda I. and Lillian Grace Collins of Ludington, died on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. Amanda Isabelle (Church) Collins was born on June 27, 1985 in Grand Rapids, MI to David and Barbara (Schippers) Church.
Amanda married Joshua A. Collins on September 22, 2012 in Ludington, MI. Lillian Grace Collins was born on March 20, 2013 in Ludington, MI to Joshua A. and Amanda I. (Church) Collins.
Amanda and Lillian are survived by: Husband/Father: Joshua A. Collins of Ludington, Daughter/Sister: Madysen Marie Church-Nichols of Ludington. Mother/Grandmother: Barbara Church of Pontiac, Sisters/Aunt: Tracy (Ryan) Mullins of Jenison and Jessica Church and John Kirwin of Baldwin; Brother/Uncle: Brian Church and Paige Nucci of Shelby Twp, MI. Sister in-law/Aunt: Casey (Marc) Lundberg. Grandparents: Julie (Kory) Henry and Bill (Holly) Collins Jr. all of Ludington. Great-Grandparents: Vearl Church of Pleasant Lake, MI. Irene Hathaway, Bill and Diann Collins both of Ludington. Several nieces and nephews also survive.
Amanda and Lillian were both preceded in death by: Father/Grandfather: David Church and Great-Grandfather: Ronald Hathaway, and Uncle Jacob William Lloyd Collins.
A Memorial service will be planned at a later date in order for the family to keep focus on Madysen and her recovery. Those wishing to express their sympathies may be directed to: You Caring.com “Mady needs a Miracle” or any Fifth Third Bank Location-“Josh Collins Family Memorial” The Throop Funeral Home of Ravenna and Stephens/Wyman Funeral Home in Scottville are in charge of arrangements. 231-853-6511 or 231-757-3333.