I was the Program Leader for the Fathers First Initiative in Rockaway, Queens for 6 years, and assisted my predecessor for 4 of those years. When a partnership with GOOD+ Foundation was formed, we began to provide fathers in the program with not only goods that they could use for their families and children, but also to provide experiences across New York City that dads otherwise may not have had the opportunity to be a part of. Our partnership grew even stronger when we worked with the GOOD+ team to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy destroyed our building and yet, we continued to serve fathers, children, and families until we were back up and running in a new location.
Over my 10 years working in the fatherhood arena, I have come to realize that we as men (for the most part) are extremely ego-driven. We pride ourselves in being providers for ourselves and families--we are hunters, we beat our chests, etc. For many of the dads in the Father’s First program, they would have a difficult time coping with not being able provide for their families and children the way that they wanted to. Dads not being able to provide for their families the way they (and others) thought they should would damage their egos and often lead to unhealthy actions and choices. But, the Fathers First program services and the goods provided by GOOD+ Foundation would end up helping in many ways at once. When a dad could get his hands on a pack of diapers or a stroller or a crib, he would feel like a provider again and this would help him feel so much better about himself and about his relationship with his child. I also saw how having things to provide for a child, like a high chair or a car seat, could also help break down some barriers when it came to the tumultuous relationship they may have had with their partners with custody of their children.
I am now serving as GOOD+ Foundation’s Fatherhood Program Manager. It's great to be on the other side of the fence, connecting and partnering with fatherhood programs in NY, LA, and other cities around the country. Through this work, I am able to continue supporting fathers and families at innovative programs just like Fathers First. I am looking forward to expanding and strengthening GOOD+ Foundation’s fatherhood work in the coming year.