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The Father Factor

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NFI's Community Mobilization Approach Workshop

This is a guest blog from NFI Senior Program Support Consultant, Ave Mulhern

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Capacity-building is the way in which organizations build up their staff and organizational capacity to successfully run programs.

When is comes to training and serving fathers in your community, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) wants your fatherhood program to be the best it can be, and reach as many dads as possible. That's why capacity-building is so important and will help your fatherhood program succeed, thrive, and effectively serve fathers.

To that end, please join us for NFI's Community Mobilization Approach Workshop in Germantown, MD on January 30, 2012 where you will learn how your organization can create lasting change in your community by working to engage all sectors of society to increase the number of children who grow up with involved, responsible fathers. 

Hear from Ave Mulhern, NFI's Sr. Program Support Consultant, about NFI's work with numerous organizations in the over the years to successfully mobilize communities around responsible fatherhood. 

During this workshop you will learn about: 

• How to raise up new fatherhood champions that represent all sectors of your community

• A needs and assets assessment process you can use to jumpstart a community-wide fatherhood initiative 

• Other cities, counties, and states that have successfully implemented the Community Mobilization Approach

We look forward to you dedicating your time with us!

Click Here to Learn More and Register for Our Upcoming Capacity Building Workshop>>

Shaping the Kind of Fathers Children Need

rolandwarrencloseup resized 600The White House recently honored a select group of people who are doing tremendous work in the field of fatherhood. NFI President Roland C. Warren was recognized for his work as a Champion of Change in this field. Written by Warren, this post originally appeared on The White House blog.

My own life and the “life” of the organization I lead have taken similar paths. Let’s start with me. When I was about 7 years old, my parents split up. For a long time, I was frustrated and confused about my feelings for my dad, who became distant and ultimately disconnected from my daily life. I am nearly 50 years old now, and I still carry a wound - a hole in my soul in the shape of my dad. But, there were lots of wounded souls out there who were yearning for their father’s love and attention.                  

I finally realized that my personal crisis of growing up without my dad was actually a national crisis. And I was deeply inspired to do something about it. Then, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) came into my life.

From the moment I heard about the organization in the late 1990s, I knew I wanted to be involved, and by 2001, I was serving as the new president. I felt incredibly blessed that I had been given the opportunity to take my desire to change the world, born of my own personal struggle, and turn it into real action.

I had moved from inspiration to action.

For its first 7 years of existence, NFI played a critical role in putting fatherhood on the national radar screen through research, national public service announcements, media appearances, and advocacy. When I came on board, I wanted that work to continue, but I also wanted to ensure that when a father came to realize that he needed to be a better dad, that he would have somewhere to turn. I wanted to ensure that when an organization – a prison, a hospital, a military base, a church, a Head Start, a YMCA – came to the realization that it had to serve the fathers in its community, that it would have somewhere to turn, too.

Since then, NFI has distributed over 6.1 million fatherhood skill-building materials to fathers and organizations around the country. We have trained nearly 12,000 fatherhood facilitators from over 5,500 organizations on how to deliver high-quality fatherhood programming into their communities. We have worked with all five branches of the military, with prisons in every state, and with community-based organizations, such as Head Starts, YMCAs, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities. We also have supported countless smaller community-serving organizations, helping them create and execute plans to educate and equip the fathers in their neighborhoods.

On the fatherhood issue, National Fatherhood Initiative has moved the nation from inspiration to implementation.

We have helped turn the growing awareness of the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood into growing action to give men the skills they need to be the kinds of fathers their children need them to be.

All these years later, I still have moments when I am that lonely boy waiting for my dad. But that pain is now happiness when I think about all the fathers who we have helped connect or reconnect with their children. This important work is changing lives, but more needs to be done. We don’t have a fatherless child to spare.

Roland  C. Warren serves as the President of the National Fatherhood Initiative. This content originally appeared on The White House blog.

Watch The White House Champions of Change event here:

Champion of Change… And a Whole Lot More

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of accompanying LS1 Christopher Cady, US Navy, to a special ceremony at the White House honoring great dads. Cady is, of course, National Fatherhood Initiative’s 2011 Military Fatherhood Award winner, and, as part of its Champions of Change initiative, the White House wanted to further honor him during its week of activities leading up to Father’s Day this Sunday.

It was quite an event. What struck me the most was the incredible stories that dads told of overcoming enormous obstacles to not only be involved in their own children’s lives, but to be “double duty dads” to other children in their communities. One father was a gang leader who was incarcerated; another witnessed horrible violence in his home growing up; another was abandoned by both of his parents… the list goes on. Yet, in the face of these huge obstacles, from which many people would have turned and run, they hung in there for the simplest, yet most important reason in the world… their kids.

Of course, there is our very own Christopher Cady. As you may know from his nomination video, Chris is the primary caretaker for his severely disabled son, Joshua. Chris is Joshua’s eyes, ears, arms and legs. He is everything to his son.

Being a dad can be tough. Being a military dad can be even tougher. Being a military dad with a special needs child… well, you get the point. But Chris has shown an enormous amount of perseverance, and I finally have a hint as to why.

Having met Chris in person for the first time yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice how calm of a guy he is. He takes everything in stride. He is always pleasant. In other words, he has exactly the kind of patient attitude he needs in order to be the kind of dad his son needs.

That is a point we make here at NFI a lot. Roland, NFI’s president, said on The Oprah Winfrey Show a few years ago, “You can’t be the kind of dad you wanted to have. You can’t be the kind of dad you want to be. You have to be the kind of dad your children need you to be.” I don’t think Chris saw that episode of Oprah, but he is certainly living by those words.

And not only that, he is working hard to make life better for all military dads, especially ones with special needs children. He is a Command Exceptional Family Member Coordinator and helps service members seek out information and resources for their children. On a local community level, he is a mentor for the Military Special Needs Group, the Special Education Advisory Committee, and the Kitsap Fathers Network. And more…

Chris didn’t just stop with his own son – he realized that to move from “good to great” he would have to help all of the other sons and daughters out there who deserve good dads.

In other words, he is a Champion of Change.

A video of Chris’ day at the Champions for Change event will be available at WhiteHouse.gov next week. Chris will be presented with his 2011 Military Fatherhood Award tomorrow near his base in Bremerton, WA.

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

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