The newly finished Wee Care Center facility had its opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Sept. 27.
Michelle Taylor, vice president of Student Affairs, welcomed everyone to the opening, which started at 2:00 p.m.
Taylor then invited Debbie Bingham, chair of the UVU foundation board, to say a few words.
Bingham spoke about the relationship they have with the new facility and how they work to help UVU better serve the community.
The UVU foundation board was the first donor of the Wee Care Center. They contributed more than $500,000 towards the new building.
And as a gift to the UVU foundation board, for their generous contribution, the front room of the Wee Care Center is dedicated to them and is named the UVU Foundation Room.
The ceremony continued on with UVU First Lady, Paige Holland, as the next speaker. She spoke about how the whole fundraising campaign started and the initiative in general.
In March 2012, Holland hosted the Women’s Leadership Luncheon. They were addressing the issue that not enough women complete their higher education.
It was at this event that the major donor Barbara Barrington Jones stood up and donated her own house.
She wanted to sell her house in California at the time and use the money to help with the expansion of the Wee Care Center. She ended up donating $2 million.
Holland acknowledged Jones as well as the other significant donors who contributed $100,000 or more.
Those donors included Kimberley Brown, Zion’s Bank, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the UVU foundation and the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation.
“One very important thing to note about this building is that this is the first building on campus that was entirely funded by private funds,” Jessica Ballard, director of Events and Communications, said.
“It was private funding all from donors, which is really big for us,” Ballard said
Holland presented all the donors with a gift, a “Hello Willy” book, a children’s book about UVU’s mascot Willy the Wolverine.
Inside the books Mary Ellen Larsen, director of the Wee Care Center, had written a message along with messages from the children and staff.
After the gifts were handed out, Holland invited Jones to say a few words before President Matthew S. Holland gave the closing remarks.
President Holland told Jill Boswell’s story about how the Wee Care Center helped her obtain her education.
Boswell needed to go back to school to earn her degree after her divorce to be able to provide for her four children as a single mother.
Boswell applied for Wee Care, but was denied childcare because the previous facility was full.
When she applied the following semester she did get her children in and she says she wouldn’t be able to go to school without the Wee Care Center.
“The wee care center really does play a very vital role,” Ballard said. “It does provide incredible resources for parents, particularly single mothers who have found themselves in a situation where they need to come back to school and couldn’t do it otherwise.”
As a closing remark the President invited all the speakers and donors back up to cut the ribbon while the Green Man Group drum rolled.
When the ribbon cutting ceremony was over the open house of the facility started. The Green Man group kept playing in the parking lot and Willy the Wolverine was wandering around.
Inside the building UVU art students were providing face paintings and in the kitchen you could get a snack similar to what they give the children in Wee Care.
Tours were available in the building to see all the rooms, and staff members were there to answer questions.
The director of the Wee Care Center, Mary Ellen Larsen, says that their standard of care and teaching will still remain at the same high standards.
“I love their service,” Ashley Judd, user of the Wee Care Center, said. “The wonderful things that will change will be our increased capacity for UVU student parents and employee children.”
The new building is designed to meet the needs of young children, and teachers will be able to create fun experiences both indoors and outdoors.
“The additional space will provide a more optimal learning environment,” Larsen said.
“It’s going to be nice with a new building because the [other] facility [was] pretty old,” Judd said.
“We look forward to the new building enhancing the care and education provided to the children of our parents,” Larsen said.
The new facility is 13,550 square feet and has two stories. It has a lobby with a receptionist desk, seven classrooms, a kitchen, a multi-purpose area, staff offices and two playgrounds for the different age groups of the children.