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From humble beginnings to years of success: Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care celebrates 10th anniversary

LANSING, Ill. (June 5, 2024) – Ten years is a milestone to reach for any business, but especially when you consider where Marisol Lopez started.

The fact that Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care marked a decade in operation at 17750 Chicago Avenue in late April is a testament to Lopez’s determination.

“She was raised in Puerto Rico,” said Lopez’s daughter, Cristal Otero, who works as a director at the day care owned by her mother. “She came here, I believe I was around three years old.”

That was almost 30 years ago now that Lopez arrived with not just Otero, but four more children in tow.

Marisol Lopez is the owner of Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care. (Photo provided)

Otero said the family couldn’t always pay for heat in the cold Chicago winters.

“We couldn’t afford McDonald’s,” Otero said.

Otero said it took her mother a while to settle on her vocation in life and that she first worked in a restaurant and considered styling hair.

“She just couldn’t find what she liked,” Otero said.

What could have been a negative experience while working at a preschool may have actually set Lopez on her defining path, according to a story recalled by Otero.

“A teacher kind of made her feel bad like ‘you’re not going anywhere,’ basically,” Otero said. “And that kind of made her want to do more and wanted to do better like ‘you know what, I am gonna be successful.'”

Starting a day care

Lopez would then start a home day care before opening her first day care center on the south side of Chicago in 2007.

That location remains open, but ownership has been passed on to Lopez’s sister.

In fact, Lopez’s passion for children seems to have been spread deep, as a number of her family members now have started their own day care businesses.

Another of Lopez’s daughters, Dali Diaz, is part of the office staff at the Lansing location but also is planning to re-open her own home day care.

She shared how her mother came to the United States with only $2,000 and struggled for about two years after opening her first business, but how that leap of faith paid off.

“I always preach on ‘people see the glory but they don’t know the story,'” Diaz said.

Diaz recalled how people and churches donated clothes to the family when they first arrived.

“Mom took a chance,” Diaz said.

Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care

That chance has resulted in the three-level building in Lansing with 17 full-time employees.

day care
Pictured is one of the rooms at Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

There is a waiting list since the 113 children who attend most days, Monday through Friday, has it filled about to capacity.

“I’ve got a couple of spots left in certain classrooms,” said Lekisha Chandler, a director who has been at the Lansing location from the start.

The day care accepts children from six weeks to 12 years old, from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Pictured is the mission statement at Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

“One thing about us, we do English and Spanish here,” Chandler said. “So it’s dual language.”

Chandler said that unlike some places, food is provided for after school attendees.

“A lot of day cares just give them a snack, but we provide a meal for them when they come in,” Chandler said.

day care
Pictured is a room for young children at Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

Chandler said when she first started working with Lopez they struggled to communicate because of a language barrier but that Lopez became more than just a boss.

“Now she’s more like a family and a friend to me,” Chandler said. “This place is special because she really tries her best to help with the kids and the parents and everything.”

Chandler said Lopez throws parties for the staff outside of the day care.

“She needs to know that we appreciate her,” Chandler said.

Juliana Gutierrez is another long-time director who has worked with Lopez for 16 years and described her as an unselfish person.

“She takes us to Vegas,” Gutierrez said.

Pictured from left to right are teachers Crystal Zavala, Isabella Zavala, Gloria Perez, Norma Rodriguez and Tiesha Avant. (Photo provided)
day care
Pictured from left to right are teachers Brianna Smith, Solmariely Rodriguez, Katrina Jackson, Idalys Saez and Mikaila Verdin. (Photo provided)

10-year anniversary

A party was scheduled to take place with children in attendance on June 7 at Dynasty Banquets in Hammond to celebrate the 10-year anniversary.

“We’re celebrating the kids being here 10 years, as well,” Chandler said.

Lopez was not interviewed for this story because Otero wanted to surprise her with a framed copy of it, similar to what was done when Lopez started her first business in Chicago.

It was her mother’s love for children that inspired Otero to earn an Early Childhood degree.

“For her to get here where she’s at today has been a true blessing,” Otero said.

Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care can be reached at [email protected] for more information.

Day care
Mari’s Bumble Bee II Day Care is located at 17750 Chicago Avenue.
(Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

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Paul Czapkowicz
Paul Czapkowicz
Paul Czapkowicz has served as a correspondent for the Northwest Indiana Times, so he is familiar with local politics, local business, and local goings-on in general. His training as a teacher gives him an innate sense of how to present facts in an organized and meaningful way, so readers gain understanding of complex subjects.

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