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RIT Stories

RIT United Way Campaign Stories 2015

Parker Stanwix was born four months early

Parker Stanwix was born four months early and was the size of a water bottle—weighing in at1 pound, 9 ounces.

After undergoing countless medical complications including a brain bleed, his mother, Keri Barone, was told her “micro-preemie” baby would have slim odds of being able to walk, talk, see, hear, or have a normal degree of intelligence.

 “My little fighter spent 108 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital at University of Rochester’s Medical Center,” said Barone, a senior lecturer in RIT’s School of Communication. “I took him home a week after his due date in Feb. 2010; the phenomenal hospital staff and early intervention from United Way-supported agencies gave him the chance to survive and thrive.”

 Parker is now 5 years old and attends kindergarten at DeWitt Road Elementary in Webster. During his lifetime, he has received feeding, speech, occupational and physical therapies from Daystar, Clinical Associates of the Finger Lakes, CP Rochester, BOCES and Liberty Post.

 “Parker was diagnosed with autism, but seeing him in person you’d never know he had a problem,” said Barone. “He’s really, really smart, loves karate, loves school, has lots of friends and is overly social.

 “And the best part is, my ‘mighty’ Parker can walk, talk, see and hear. I am forever grateful.”


Devren Purdie

Arya Gates is a happy toddler who attends daycare at Margaret's House.

Arya Gates is a happy toddler who attends daycare at Margaret’s House. And for her newly engaged parents, Amberlee Jones and Jordan Gates, the United Way-supported on-campus childcare facility has been one more reason why they enjoy being part of the RIT community.

Natives of Manchester, N.H., Jones ’12 came to RIT to earn a degree in American Sign Language and Interpreting Education and Gates followed soon after. “I cannot express the terror that goes through your mind when you are 22, unwed, pregnant, and looking back at paying $40,000 in school loans,” said Jones. “I thought I was ruining the love of my life’s future and he wouldn’t be able to finish his education.”

Although Jones was recently hired as an interpreter at RIT's Department of Access Services, the cost of daycare for Arya—who was born June 4, 2013—seemed prohibitive until the couple received financial help from Margaret’s House.

“It’s difficult for a college dad who is working reduced hours and going to school full time to help make ends meet,” said Gates, who completed his first year in the criminal justice program. “To get some of that burden lifted by Margaret’s House has pushed us to achieve even more in our lives.”

Jones agrees: “Our daughter has blossomed under their loving care and hands-on learning, Jordan has a 4.0 GPA, and I have my dream job. RIT is a community that cares.”