As a college student at North Carolina Central University in 1968, Hunter Haith thought he’d never want anything to do with children. A challenging Peace Corp assignment changed everything and led to over 40 years of service with Guilford Child Development.
Haith’s Peace Corp assignment was to teach third and fourth grade math and science in a rural Malaysian village. “Here I was not wanting anything to do with children and this is the project that came up,” Haith says.
Haith’s assignment began with two weeks of practice teaching at a school in Hawaii. He recalls one of his students, an eight-year-old boy named Barton. “He gave me a fit every day in class, but when he got ready to leave for the day, he would always shake my hand and say, ‘Have a good day, Mr. Haith.’”
At the end of the practice teaching, there was a big celebration for all the volunteers. Haith noticed Barton over by himself crying. “Barton was crying because he didn’t have anything to give me,” Haith says. “That really touched my heart. I then learned Barton was from a broken home.”
Haith spent the next two years fulfilling his teaching assignment in Malaysia. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had,” Haith says. “I got to know a lot about who I am.”
When Haith returned home to Burlington, North Carolina, he took a youth director position at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Greensboro. United Day Care Services, which later became Guilford Child Development, operated a child care center in the church along with eight other centers in Greensboro.
Haith worked at various positions with United Day Care Services until Executive Director, Carl Staley, asked him to turn around the struggling food services program that served meals to the children. Within three months, Haith got the program out of the red.
The food services program evolved into Catering for Kids, which Haith has operated for the past 20 years for Guilford Child Development. “I’ve had opportunities to go other places,” Haith says. “But I’ve felt that here in this agency… the kinds of things that we do… the things that we have done… it has touched an awful lot of lives. I've been blessed to do something that I love."
As Haith hangs up his apron for the last time, the man who thought he’d never want anything to do with children says he will likely continue to carry on Guilford Child Development’s mission and help more children and families reach their full potential.