0

Clayton Fatherhood Initiative hosts open house

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

This weekend, the Clayton County Fatherhood Initiative Partnership will share its curriculum of programs with the public.

The group is an amalgamation of government, non-profit, and faith-based organizations that have joined hands to address problems facing fathers in the county.

Its open house will take place this Saturday, 5:30-9 p.m., at the Virginia Gray Recreation Center, located at 1475 East Fayetteville Road in Riverdale. The event will give community members a chance to review the CCFIP's programs, meet with partnering organizations, and sign up for classes, which are tentatively scheduled to start on Feb. 8.

"Things are coming along well," said Mario Kimball, a local pastor and CCFIP chair. "This will give people a chance to know what we are about."

In November, several Clayton County organizations came together in agreement that a lack of family stability has adversely impacted the safety and economy of the county. The CCFIP was established to provide some of the same services to men that are often, more readily available to women and children.

"Everything that the community provides for women and children, we want to be able to provide for fathers," said Kimball.

Kimball shared one story of a Hispanic father of three, whose wife died three years ago. He has been working with the father to find counseling services and more affordable housing through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), so the family can stay together.

"It's not always the fault of the father," said Kimball. "There's a lot of things that fathers need help with."

While the CCFIP addresses issues which may be difficult for the individual to control, such as finding a home, job placement, and General Education Degree (GED) training, the CCFIP curriculum also teaches fathers how to solve problems that are within their control.

Among the curriculum are programs aimed at all aspects of fatherhood. "24/7 Dad" focuses on the characteristics of good parenting from a father's perspective. The "Amachi Model" program, derived from a West African proverb, works with fathers and sons to break generational cycles of negative behavior.

The "Ten Steps Rights of Passage" program focuses on teaching boys manhood and social responsibility. The "Unwed Young Fathers" program helps teenage fathers develop healthy relationships with the mother and child (or children) in their lives, with the goal of decreasing the rate of absentee fathers.

Anthony Williams, chairman of Diverse and Dedicated Support (D.A.D.S.), a youth-mentoring organization and CCFIP partner, said the program offers more tools "to try to heal Clayton County."

"It gives a game plan to our boys and men to really examine what it takes being a man," said Williams. "We're trying to open the door, so that we, as men, can take back our society.

"We have to get back to men reaching one another," Williams added. "The change is not going to happen by itself ... It's time for men to step up and do what they are supposed to do."

For more information, go to www.ccfip.org.