UVU President Matt Holland, alongside generous donors, officially broke ground on Jan. 10 to celebrate Utah Valley University’s childcare facility expansion in hopes of boosting women graduation rates.
The facility expansion was made possible by a $2 million donation given by Barbara Barrington Jones, a motivational speaker and CEO of the nonprofit Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation.
Holly Lundell, a UVU graduate and a mother of two boys, expressed what the childcare program meant to her after fleeing from an abusive relationship and having doubts about her future.
“Without the services of Wee Care, I would not have been able to finish my degree. They give moral support to exhausted and frightened parents,” Lundell said.
She understands the fear of these mothers because she too was in an abusive relationship, leaving her with two young children and limited resources. She has pledged the later years of her life to empowering and motivating women to reach their potential.
“It has always been my dream to empower women and children to reach their potential to live more rewarding and fulfilling lives, and that is what this Wee Care Center will do,” Barrington Jones said. “The mothers can feel good about leaving their children in a wonderful place where they can be loved and cared for.”
Greg Butterfield, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, officially announced the name of the expansion as The Wee Care Center Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation, in her honor.
Since Holland has held his title at UVU, one of his main goals has been to help women reach their dreams of graduating. “For a lot of mothers in this community, this will be the difference between getting and not getting their higher education,” Holland said.
With Utah having low rates of women graduates, Holland recognized that there was a need to change the facility in order to boost morale and expand resources. One of the main reasons women in Utah are not graduating at national rates is because they cannot afford childcare. Holland vows that the Wee Care Center will be very affordable and deems this new facility as a perpetual benefit to the community.
“This structure will effectively create a kind of scholarship for hundreds and hundreds of students while it stands. We as a community have a chance to help not just hundreds of individuals, but thousands,” Holland said.
The current facility was founded in 2011 in a small home that can serve only 100 students at a time. The university has simply outgrown the current facility and plans for the new expansion to accommodate at least five hundred students at a time. One of the many things that drew Barrington Jones to the project was that it is not simply a daycare facility but a learning environment where the children can gain education, like their parents, from qualified instructors.
“When I saw the Wee Care Center and the children there, I said, ‘This is where my help will go,’” said Barrington Jones. The new facility will be two stories tall and will include a reception and check-in desk, seven classrooms, a kitchen and age-appropriate learning facilities. It will accommodate children ranging from six months to twelve years of age.