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The Father Factor

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Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Talks Fatherhood Kiosks

The following incorporates a guest post by Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Fatherhood Clark County, OH and Urban Light Ministries. If you would like to guest blog for us, email here.

At NFI, we often receive inquiries from organizations asking some of the following questions:

question mark  How can we increase our exposure in the community?

 

question mark How do we get our information and services into the public?

 

question mark How can we make our resources easily accessible?

 

Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Fatherhood Clark County, OH and Urban Light Ministries is using NFI's Fatherhood Kiosks in creative ways, so we asked him to share how he is using them in his community:

Fatherhood Resource Center™

"To be effective, a local fatherhood initiative needs to get information about the resources available to fathers into the hands of those dads.

Here in Clark County, Ohio, new Fatherhood Resource Kiosks have been strategically placed around the community to do just that. We have stocked the kiosks with informative tip cards and brochures from National Fatherhood Initiative including: Ten Ways to Be a Better Dad, Ten Tips for New Dads, and Ten Tips to Help Your Child in School. The kiosks and full-color materials are expertly designed and make an excellent first impression.

They also allow us to easily provide information to fathers in the rest of the community. In those kiosks, we’ve also included tip cards and brochures featuring the fatherhood programs and services offered by Urban Light. The five free-standing Fatherhood Resource Kiosks were strategically placed throughout our county at WorkPlus one-stop job center, the county Child Support agency, Children Service agency, Rocking Horse Community Health Center, and Springfield High School. After an undetermined period of time, some of the kiosks may be moved to other locations to increase exposure and access.

Fatherhood Resource Center™

We continue to use the older style tabletop fatherhood kiosk from NFI, as it's being kept on display at Urban Light Fatherhood Resource Center in Springfield, OH. We are planning to also use this as a traveling unit for conferences, community events, and etc.

Fatherhood Clark County is grateful that NFI had the foresight to create these important tools for promoting responsible fatherhood, and healthy fathering practices."

Fatherhood Clark County oversees the county’s Action Plan to Promote Responsible Fatherhood, local Fatherhood Summits, and the annual celebration of fatherhood each Fathers Day weekend.

We hope that hearing from Eli gives your organization some ideas on how to make the most out of your Fatherhood Resource Kiosks™; they are an excellent way to engage the community and expand your efforts.

Learn more about the Kiosks by downloading the information sheet below!

3 Popular Questions When Working With Fathers

At NFI we recieve many questions asking how organizations can better reach and help the fathers going through our fatherhood programs they run. The following are three popular - but tough - questions that are important to wrestle with as individuals and organizations seek to provide greater support to fathers and their respective families.

person stands thinking beside questionmarkHow do we reach dads that are not interested in being involved in their children's lives?

This is a question that we receive often.  It’s important to acknowledge on the front end that despite our best efforts, some dads will be very challenging to reach.  While many dads have a strong interest in their children, some fathers are apathetic towards their role.  The key in reaching these fathers is to not write them off, but to always make them feel welcome and to try to understand why they feel that way.  Also, discern whether someone else is in a better position to speak to them about the importance of their role.  Do not feel like you have to carry the burden alone.  And remember, it’s important not to divert too much time and energy away from the dads that are ready and willing to increase and improve their involvement with their children.  In an effort to connect with the hard to reach dads, we don’t want to lose sight of the ones that are showing an interest in their children. 

For more suggestions on Recruiting and Retaining Fathers, contact NFI’s Program Support Team.

describe the imageHow can I help a father who is having significant issues with the mother of his children?

This too is a great question.  There are several principles to keep in mind here.  First, it’s important to start small.  The common principle in paying off credit card debt is to pay off the smallest debt first and then work towards the larger debts.  The same principle applies to relationships.  Remember to first focus on the issues that you have the best chance of resolving.  Once you see success in those areas, mutual respect and confidence in the relationship will grow.  Then it becomes more likely that you’ll see success with the more significant and complex issues.  But, remember to coach the dads to focus on what they have contributed to the conflict, rather than on what “she” needs to do differently.  By taking greater ownership of the situation, dads will be putting themselves in the best possible position to reconcile with the mother of their children.

For more information on working with dads and moms on resolving conflicts, please download our Talking with Mom and Mom as Gateway workshops. 

man standing by question markWhat advice can I give a non-residential father who is trying to communicate with his children, but is not hearing anything back?

This is indeed a tough scenario.  First, it’s important for dads to separate their efforts from the results.  Certainly, the goal of communication is for it to be a two way street. But in some cases, letters and phone calls (and other means of communication) will go unanswered. The reasons why are as complex as the relationships themselves.  But here’s what dads need to remember: the more sincere and consistent communication you have with your children, the more likely you will eventually see results. This may take days, months, and even years.  It will be critical for dads to have a resolve to stay consistent in their communication efforts, even if they never hear back.  That will give dads the peace knowing that they did what they could to move beyond the past and heal their relationship.  NFI has heard many stories of reconciliation taking place after countless years of separation and silence.  You too can see that result!  Remember, two keys to reconciliation are owning what you did wrong and forgiving the other person for their mistakes. 

Want to help fathers connect with their children? Download NFI's "The Ultimate Guide to Connecting with Your Child"

Advocate for Dads in Washington, DC!

capitol building advocate for fatherhoodOne of NFI’s goals is to be a voice for fatherhood on Capitol Hill. Over the years, for example, we have helped push through funding that supports organizations seeking to equip dads.

So, while there is funding for programs providing needed services to fathers, there is a general lack of funding available for organizations to obtain the “capacity-building” training and services they need to build long-term sustainability.

What is capacity-building? It is what organizations need to be more effective in their service delivery in the present and more viable organizations in the future. Leadership development, organizational development, program development, and community engagement would all qualify as capacity-building services.

That is why we have created an initiative to inform Congress that federal fatherhood grantees should be allowed to use a portion of their funds to procure capacity-building services and training.

While service delivery is the most important use of grant funds, those services need to be delivered by effective organizations – and that is where capacity-building comes in. It will help organizations do a better job serving fathers and ultimately lead to better outcomes for children.

We have set up a page on our website where you and/or your organization can make your voice heard! The grant program for fatherhood programs will be reviewed in Congress later this year, so now is the time to ensure that future grantees will have the flexibility to use some of their grant funds for capacity-building.

Here is what we would like for you to do: 

As an individual – Use our special webpage to send your opinion directly to your members of Congress. The more voices that come on board, the more persuasive we can be!

As an organizationSign on to become an "endorsing organization" of this effort to allow federal fatherhood grantees to use a portion of their funds for capacity-building services. Your organization's name will be listed alongside National Fatherhood Initiative as a supporter or this important advocacy effort.

We will soon inform Congress and the White House of all the people and organizations that are behind this effort. 

Thank you so much in advance for helping us in this important effort. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact Vincent DiCaro, NFI’s Congressional liaison at vdicaro@fatherhood.org.

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Climb Mountain, Get Water: The Father Factor in Kenna's Cause

kenna

I recently attended the 10th annual Cause Marketing Forum (CMF) conference in Chicago to learn about how non-profits and corporate brands can support important causes together. During the conference keynote, musician Kenna made a special appearance to share about Summit on the Summit – a campaign he created raising awareness and funds to provide clean drinking water by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Working at NFI has given me “fatherhood glasses” and what stuck out to me from Kenna’s story was that it was his dad who inspired him to create this campaign.

Kenna is an Ethiopian-born American musician. He told the audience at CMF that he attempted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to celebrate his second album but could not finish due to a reaction to anti-altitude medication.

kenna and dad

When his dad asked him why he wanted to climb the mountain, Kenna replied that he felt like he hadn’t reached his life’s mountain yet. His dad reminded him that he had been born at 19,000 feet altitude and perhaps he didn’t need the anti-altitude medication. “You were made to climb that mountain, Kenna,” his dad said. “Maybe you have added something artificial to your life, like the medication, that is keeping you from reaching your life’s mountain.”

Kenna’s dad told him he wanted to dig a well in his native country, Ethiopia, to provide clean drinking water. Though he was born in Ethiopia, Kenna grew up in the United States and he took clean drinking water for granted.

Then, he learned that his dad had almost died from a waterborne disease that left him in great pain through his teen years. This disease killed many others in his community. Around the world, over one billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water.

Kenna says his father’s experience with this global crisis made him realize his dad did not come to America and provide a good life for his family just so his son could walk a red carpet and be famous. His father’s story and his close relationship with his dad motivated Kenna to help his dad fulfill his dream of providing clean drinking water to his native community and others in need around the world.

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Kenna created Summit on the Summit to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a team of celebrities (including Lupe Fiasco, Emile Hersch, and Jessica Biel), humanitarian workers, corporate brands like HP, and the United Nations.

The extreme nature of their effort was intended to raise awareness of the extreme need for clean water. Watch a video about this project here.

The campaign was successful! Months later, Kenna returned to Ethiopia, which includes some of the driest parts of the earth, to dig a well 50 yards from where his father had contracted a waterborne illness years before. Kenna continues to campaign for access to clean drinking water even though his climb is done.

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Kenna says, “Everything I wanted to accomplish as an artist I had done. I wanted to do something that would impact the world, but I never thought I’d do that by impacting my own family. It’s been the most meaningful existence.”

At NFI, we say “fathers change the world one child at a time.” In this case, Kenna’s father truly made an impact on the world. His relationship with his son motivated his son to devote himself to a cause close to his father.

While your children may not have the celebrity status Kenna was able to leverage for an important cause, you are making a difference everyday by shaping what your children care about and value. You never know what they will be motivated to do because you invested in their life.

How have you been inspired by your dad?

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