I am writing this letter from two perspectives. The first is wearing my director’s hat to thank United Way for their generous grant donation towards Kaleidoscope Preschool and Child Care Center’s scholarship fund. The second is that of a single mother, who knows firsthand the struggles of being a local in a tourist-driven economy.
United Way has made a huge difference to the families who have received scholarship funds. Years ago, I was one of those families, and I cried when I heard that the unpaid balance on my child care bill would be paid through their grant. This year, I was able to share that same good news with other families that they would be receiving a little help. This award comes to them unexpectedly, and yes, it brings tears to their eyes. One mother recounted the value of such an award to her as a single parent and small business owner. She, like many others, was unable to qualify for any form of child care subsidy. It should be celebrated that she no longer lives within the parameters of poverty; however, it truly put her in a challenging position to pay full cost for child care while still maintaining a decent quality of life on Orcas Island. Many islanders will understand this situation, and for those who are personally affected by this challenge, I applaud you and encourage you to keep going!
Kaleidoscope strives to offer affordable childcare while supporting the families of Orcas Island. There have been many opportunities to reach out and find creative ways to assist people with their childcare bills. One of the most consistent has been the annual grant from United Way. This grant does more than apply money towards the balance of those who need it. This grant provides access for children who would otherwise have reduced hours or be unable to attend at all. Access to quality early learning has been shown to have significant effects on kindergarten readiness on Orcas Island and sets children up to be lifelong learners. On behalf of the children and families who benefit from United Way’s generous grant, thank you with deepest gratitude!