OREM --The proposed expansion of the Wee Care Center day care at Utah Valley University will now become a reality thanks to one big donation.
Barbara Barrington Jones, president and CEO of the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation, recently doubled her previous donation of $1 million and is now donating $2 million to the privately funded expansion.
"I see the huge need for women to continue on to get that degree," Jones said. "The need is something I relate to and I have a tremendous passion for."
Jones said many years ago after her abusive husband had killed himself she found herself with no education and two small children. She said once she got through that difficult time she wrote in her journal that she wanted to help women someday because she knew what it was like to need help.
Jones's donation takes the total fundraising count to $2.8 million, which is enough money to move the project forward and break ground on the new day care facility.
"We are so thrilled and so deeply grateful, this is a remarkable gift that we need to be able to break ground," said Jane Urbaska, associate vice president for the alumni and development division at UVU. "Her commitment is truly heartfelt. Barbara is so committed to the children and to the mothers and fathers that so desperately need child care."
The current Wee Care Center is only able to serve 100 children any given semester, but the expansion will nearly quadruple the number of children the facility can handle. The day care offers low cost child care to low-income students attending UVU.
UVU President Matthew S. Holland said helping more women graduate from UVU has been a priority since the beginning of his presidency three years ago, and expanding the Wee Care Center is one way to do that.
"Not surprisingly one of the key challenges for many female students in Utah is family and child care issues, and so this really allows us to address that in a much more significant way," Holland said. "We had gone into this with the belief that it needed to be done but weren't sure how it could be done but knew we had to try. When Barbara agreed to donate $2 million that put us well within striking distance. We couldn't have been more moved by her generosity and determination to make this possible for us."
Urbaska said they needed $2.2 million before they could break ground and now that they have those funds they will send the project out to get bids and should know the final cost by the end of November. She estimated the building will cost between $3 million and $4 million once everything is finished.
Holland said he is grateful for the other community members who have donated and those who will donate in the future.
"I can't say how appreciative we are of her but also of the generosity of others in the community," Holland said. "We still need to raise more to complete the project and are still taking contributions."
Jones said her donations to the Wee Care Center may not be complete either. She said before all is said and done there could possibly be another million donated to the expansion.
"I couldn't have found something I believed in more," Jones said. "Children are the future leaders of our country and worth investing in."
A completion or ground-breaking date for the project has yet to be announced.