Meet a Dad – Charlie Welke | FairfieldMoms
Charlie is a recent addition to Fairfield. He moved here summer 2021 with his wife, Leslie, and their four kids (ages 8, 7, 5, and 4). They came to establish a new faith community, City Coast Church. Their greatest joy is connecting people to God and one another. Charlie and Leslie grew up near Chicago and always loved being close to a city. Deep down, both of them always dreamed of getting out of the Midwest and living on a coast. Fairfield was the perfect spot for a family of six to fuse the city with the coast.

Where are you originally from and how long have you been in Fairfield?

I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and moved to central Illinois for college. We started our
family while living in Bloomington-Normal and moved to Fairfield summer of 2021.

Tell us about your Family!

Leslie and I have been married since 2009. We met while we were both in college. Leslie is a certified
elementary school teacher who has been at home full-time since our first daughter, Ella, was born. Ella
arrived in 2013 and was quickly followed by Violet (2015), Warren (2016), and Pearl (2018). We had all
four of our kids in a five-year span. Ella, Violet and Warren will all be at Holland Hill Elementary School
and Pearl will be in her second year at the Ludlowe High School Pre-K program for the 2022-23 school

One thing people would be surprised to know about you?

When I was in middle school, I dreamed about becoming a professional wrestler because I loved
watching WWE with my dad and brother. When we first arrived in Fairfield County, we stayed at a hotel
in downtown Stamford. Once I saw the WWE headquarters, I knew we had found our home!

One thing you wish someone would have told you about fatherhood?

I wish someone had told me more about managing and expressing my own emotions. There are a lot of
feelings and relationships among the six of us on any given day.

I’ve found that my emotions often set a tone for how things are going to go. Nobody told me how much empathy and self-awareness it takes to be a dad.

What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Fairfield?

We love how the community of Fairfield creates environments where we can go and make memories with our kids. We’ve had a multitude of “Hallmark moments” since moving to Fairfield. The Memorial Day Parade through town, the 4th of July Fireworks on the beach, and the Christmas Tree lighting at
Town Hall stand out as a few of those events. But the concerts on the Town Green, Sand Jam Movie Nights at Jennings, and all the 5k’s and farmer’s markets also give that feel on a smaller scale.

Best dad hack that makes your life easier?

Produce buffets and appetizers. We find our kids are much more likely to eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day if we have them on the table. Most days you can find produce on our table from breakfast through dinner. It makes it accessible for the kids all day. And, it’s easy to respond to their
1000 requests for snacks throughout the day with, “There’s a snack right on the table.” We also put it out before dinner as an appetizer while we prepare the food instead of fighting with them to eat their
vegetables at dinner.

Tell us about your job, when & why you decided to start in this field?

I have been a full-time, ordained Christian pastor since 2009. When I was twenty years old, I had a
transformative life experience. I was nearly arrested and came to realize the path I was on wasn’t
leading anywhere worth going. Becoming a Christian completely changed the trajectory of my life. After
a few opportunities to serve in ministry, I learned that working within a church was a viable profession.
My ministry career began with a focus on the next generation – middle school, high school, and college
students. After a decade of working with students, I became a campus pastor and part of the teaching
team at a large, non-denominational church. I’ve always loved being around people who come to faith
for the first time. It’s a privilege to walk with people as they experience transformation, and I’ve come to
believe that the global church can be one of the greatest agents for good in the world. We moved to
Fairfield in 2021 with hopes and dreams of starting a new church in this area.

What do you love about your job? Challenges you face?

I love being in a service and people industry. Every single day the work we do is as varied as the people
and circumstances we encounter. No two days are the same. I love that we get to celebrate the highest
of highs and grieve the lowest of lows with people. We journey through births and deaths, marriages
and divorces, faith questions and concerns, and everything in between. It’s a joy to connect people with
God and one another.

Unfortunately, the reputation of the church isn’t as favorable as it once was. Much of this has been
earned through poor decisions and lack of character among churches. Sometimes it feels like talking
about God is an uphill battle because people have a lot of legitimate baggage with the church. The
biggest challenge we face is helping people get through past hurt and dominant assumptions so they can
really ask themselves the big questions about life, faith, existence, eternity, purpose, etc.

If you weren’t working in this industry, what do you think you would be doing today?

I guess I’d be a professional wrestler (hahaha, just kidding, and no way Leslie would be married to me if I was)! Truthfully, when I met Leslie, I was studying to become a doctor. I know most guys think they are going to be doctors or lawyers or first responders after they let go of the professional athlete dream, but
I really wanted to be a doctor. Specifically, I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. My dad was a carpenter, and I’ve always been fascinated by craftsmanship. I wanted to be someone who could physically help put kids back together when tragedies struck their families. The skills and empathy needed in those
environments always appealed to me.

Best advice for dads who experience the inevitable guilt handling a career and helping support a family?

There is no balance, but there is a dynamic interplay between the home and career that require
constant assessment of energy. First, I would say to listen to the guilt and get curious about it. Your soul
is probably trying to tell you something. We’ve got good internal radars for when we’re shortchanging
one of our responsibilities. Certain aspects of parenting require greater home investment. Certain
seasons of work require greater energy expenditure. These things change so rapidly that I no longer try
to “balance” them. Instead, I try to keep tabs on the outcomes that are most important to me. One of
my guiding values is to be connected to and respected by the people most entrusted to my care. That
means I’m looking to make sure I’ve got a solid bond with my family rather than measuring the number
of hours I was at home in a given week or how much travel a certain season required of me. I also have
tangible outcomes that I’m responsible for in work. If I’m failing in my job, that puts our family at risk. I
want to model what it means to be a good employee and to do a job with excellence. So, I would say,
listen to the guilt and explore why it’s there. Chances are you care deeply about your family and your
career, and your heart is trying to tell you where to direct (or re-direct) your energy at a given time.

Who has most influenced you to be the father that you are today?

My dad was an extremely present father. We spent a lot of time together as I was growing up. He was
the coach for most of my teams all the way through middle school. We did countless side jobs together
over the weekends. While our personalities may be very different, my dad showed me the power of
being present. And somehow, he managed to teach us that our lives were our own. He never forced his
dreams or needs on us. He gave us the space to become our own people. I guess I would summarize it
by saying he was present and empowering; and, I hope to be the same.

What advice would you share with a new dad or other dads?

The thought that there is an idealized, super-dad is fake news. Every dad does it different and every kid requires a different kind of parenting. Parenting is as unique as each parent-child relationship. I thought
I would be a certain type of dad, and then we had Ella. I thought I knew what kind of dad I was, and then we had Violet. I thought, certainly with two kids I’m getting established in my parenting, and then we had a son! By the time we got to Pearl, I realized that having a community of dads was essential, but comparing myself to other dads would often be discouraging.

We love supporting local businesses – favorite places in Fairfield to…

Have Dinner with Family: Lilac House – our kids are big Chicken Lo Mein fans and we can order sushi

Grab a Drink with Friends: Malibu Taco – Happy Hour is perfect for drinks and eats

Have a Date Night: Still exploring, but Martel was a great menu with lots of things we liked to share

Spend time together as a Family: We go to the beach as much as possible all year round. When you’ve
lived in Illinois for decades, getting by the water is the best!

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