Thirty-two-year-old William Carter is a single dad whose greatest joy in life is found in his 3-year-old son, Logan. William's day starts at 7 a.m., when he drops Logan off at day care at Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center in Mayville. At 5 p.m., William shuffles into the center, tired from a hard day of servicing wells for Empire Energy, a job he's had for one year. William's look of exhaustion soon turns to joy though, as he sees Logan and scoops him up in his arms.
"He loves it here," William said. "It's tough to leave him every day, but I know he's being taken care of."
Logan has been attending the day care center, located inside Chautauqua Lake Elementary School, for 18 months now. William said he's noticed a big difference in his son's social skills over that time.
William and Logan Carter find security at Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center.
"He's so much better with the other kids, and he's communicating and making friends," William said. "Logan now has a stable environment where he has the opportunity to learn and grow under the guidance of a highly trained staff. Being a single dad is tough enough, but having Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center available to us, has allowed me to provide a better life for my son."
Providing that "better life" for Logan, has been made easier for William Carter because of the scholarship program at the day care center. The funding is available through the help of United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. William said when you're trying to stretch each paycheck, every little bit helps.
"It saves me 25 dollars every week," William said. "That's just extra money in my pocket that I can spend on something else. I'm very grateful for the scholarship."
Name: Amy Harding
Employer: Lake Shore Savings
Hometown: Bemus Point
I'm an allocations volunteer because ... "For over 20 years I've donated to United Way, but never understood where my money was going and who it was helping. After volunteering, I now know what the organization does and the services it provides to create positive change."
And Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center Executive Director, Elizabeth Starks, is very grateful for William and Logan. She said they're starting to see more families like them at the center.
"We are seeing more single dads here," Starks said. "That's why this scholarship program is so important. Seventy families take advantage of this scholarship and for some of those families - they wouldn't be able to send their child here without it. "
And with more families today relying on two household incomes to make ends meet, Starks said affordable child care is a top priority.
"Long gone are the days of one parent working," Starks said. "With both caregivers in the workforce, finding high quality child care is a real concern. Parents want it, but it can be really expensive. That's where we fit in."
Starks said the benefits of quality early learning programs are plentiful. Children who receive it are more likely to be reading at grade level by the third grade, graduate from high school, and go on to college. Furthermore, studies show that children in high quality child care are less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to have higher earnings as adults. William Carter said all those things are fine by him, but he's just glad there's a safe place for Logan to go.
"For me, it's a sense of security," William said. "I can leave him here all day, and I know he's taken care of. It allows me to focus on my job, and not have to worry about whether or not Logan is doing well. I know he is."
Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center is just one of several programs supported by United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. When you give to the campaign, you're helping families just like William and Logan Carter find a sense of security, and a better life.