Twenty-nine-year-old Chris Conley wants his children to have a better life than he's had.
Chris dropped out of high school on the first day of his senior year. He married young then divorced.
Today, he's a single parent to Briley, a 6-year-old kindergartener at the Washington Academy. Briley is autistic but teachers there understand him, says Chris, who is quick to add how grateful he is.
Four-year-old Brickley doesn't talk yet. She's not potty trained. She's had a rough start; she was beaten early in life. No one knows for sure what happened but about a year ago Chris got a phone call and was told to pick up his daughter at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. He brought her home with a body cast from the waist down. She had a broken left femur.
Today, you wouldn't know anything was ever wrong. On this day, Brickley is climbing all over everything and everyone.
Monday through Friday, Brickley attends United Day Care on Vine Street in Muncie. Because United Way subsidizes the weekly childcare costs, daycare is just $35 a week. He couldn't do it any other way.
"When we get in her stroller and start down the sidewalk, she knows exactly where we're going," Chris said. "She gets excited. She loves it. The girls at United Day Care help me with everything. I don't know what I would do without them."
United Way programs make the difference for Chris. "I cook. I clean. I do everything. Speaking frankly, if I don't do it, who will? United Day Care is the only way I keep my sanity."
Chris holds down a part-time job but much of his time is spent caring for his children. "I wasn't pushed when I was a kid. I want something better for them. I push them."
United Way: Identify the obstacles. Take on the impossible. Conquer situational poverty.