Chase’s Story

This is the story of Chase, as written by his parents Melissa Carpenter and Jarrod Stewart

Chase - Brick WallOur son Chase is a happy, outgoing four year old. He lives life to the fullest, wearing his Superman cape or playing with our three cats and two dogs. Chase engages people in conversations and loves to tell his friends what he did the night before.

Chase was diagnosed with autism at 18 months. He struggled to communicate, at times flipping over chairs in his frustration. In 2016 we were fortunate to find Stepping Stones, where Chase made wonderful progress and we learned how to help him interact with his world.

In June 2017 we got the news that Stepping Stones had closed. With a child who was so strict about routine, we worried that a sudden change would disrupt Chase and our entire family. Then, we found Rochester Childfirst Network! RCN was so empathetic and understanding. It didn’t feel like a business; they were really trying to help us. Our first day there, as we were filling out paperwork, Chase was already playing with other kids. He went outside for playtime and came back with them to have a snack. It was as if he’d been going to RCN for years!

RCN’s teachers worked closely with Chase to understand why he responded in certain ways, and explained things in ways he could understand. Since starting at RCN Chase regulates his emotions more consistently and can function in non-structured environments, worlds better than he could a year ago. Everything about him has improved at RCN. More than anything, it gives us hope.

This fall, Chase entered Kindergarten. I don’t worry about him fitting in. I just hope his new teachers give Chase the individualized attention that RCN so effortlessly provided.

Chase - SlideChildren with special needs can be challenging, but life with them is worth the time and effort. Our son Chase lives in a whole different world, one that we are honored to be a part of.

You’ll find many amazing allies in your journey as you advocate for your child, especially at Rochester Childfirst Network.  Rochester Childfirst Network gives hope to hundreds of families just like ours. 

And that’s why I am writing today, asking you to support RCN’s 2018 Annual Children’s Fund.

Gifts to the Annual Children’s Fund help kids from diverse circumstances and backgrounds, with differing abilities. Donations help ensure that Chase and every other child at RCN have a great educational experience every day.    


Thank you for considering your gift to Rochester Childfirst Network and the 2018 Annual Children’s Fund.


Melissa Carpenter and Jarrod Stewart