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Focus on fatherhood initiative at Friday summit

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

This Friday, eight Clayton County non-profit organizations will kick off the Clayton County Fatherhood Initiative Partnership (CCFIP), a collaboration aimed at improving resources for men, and breaking the chain of absentee fathers.

The partnership will host a Responsible Fatherhood Summit at the Clayton County International Park from 9 a.m., to 3:30 p.m. Its focus is to introduce the services of the CCFIP.

The event will feature a nationally recognized speaker on the issue, Charles Lee Johnson, CEO of the National Family Life and Education Center. He is best known for his 10 Steps Rites of Passage Program.

Also scheduled to appear, is Cozell Harris, national fatherhood consultant for the Anne E. Casey Foundation, an organization aimed at enhancing the quality of life for families.

The fatherhood initiative was started to combine the efforts of organizations interested in making men aware of services currently being offered in the county, said Mario Kimball, senior pastor of Lion of Judah Family Worship Center and chair of the CCFIP.

"Most of the services in the county ... they are for children and family, but they are not father-friendly," said Kimball. "A lot of organizations cater toward the women and the children, but the father is isolated."

Kimball said he wanted men to know that there are organizations to give them tools to enhance their roles as fathers. "We're just trying to bring awareness to the county that we are here ... to help the fathers become better fathers and reduce some of that baby mama's drama," he added.

The CCFIP plans to offer programs on manhood, dealing positively with divorce and child support, social responsibility, economic improvement, cultural and academic education, as well as mental, physical and spiritual health. "It helps round the whole male off, so he can be a positive influence to his family and community," said Kimball.

The CCFIP combines resources from several groups, including The Advocacy Foundation, Inc., Awesome, Inc., The Clayton County Adolescent Coalition, Inc., D.A.D.S. (Diverse and Dedicated Support), God's House of Worship and Deliverance, Inc., The Greater Solid Rock Community Outreach Center, Inc., Lion of Judah Community Development Corporation, Inc., and Clayton County Parks and Recreation.

This April, CCFIP was one of 20 applicants, out of 387 nationwide, to receive a $25,000 grant from the National Fatherhood Initiative to help build infrastructure for the program.

Anthony Williams, chairman of D.A.D.S., which works with local schools to get fathers more engaged in school programs, said the CCFIP partnership is an example of strength in numbers.

"It's easier for us to accomplish the mission if we are collectively together," said Williams. "The greatest thing that has come out of this is that we have been able to come together collectively to accomplish our individual goals."

Williams said it is the responsibility of the community to improve the relationships between fathers and children in the county.

"This is our watch," said Williams. "If we don't do something, the failure of our kids is on us."