Fun and Jobs for Fathers

June 17, 1995

Father's Day comes amid a national debate on welfare reform that could set the course of domestic policy for decades. Yet there is an absence of ideas for shoring up the crucial role of fathers.

So credit the Men's Services program of Baltimore City Healthy Start with the kind of approach that truly celebrates and supports the importance of fathers. It is highlighting work zTC opportunities for those who are unemployed or underemployed. This afternoon, the project is sponsoring the Fathers and Families Expo '95 in War Memorial Plaza. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Expo will feature free food, performances by local artists, games for fathers and children, voter registration, health screenings, an immunization van and a raffle.

There's more: Dads who need work can explore job opportunities. The University of Maryland Health System, the U.S. Army, Associated Builders and Contractors and Job Corps are some of the groups that plan to be on hand to counsel potential employees. Representatives from job training programs and other resources will also be available.

It doesn't take complicated research to know that men who are unable to contribute financially to their children's needs feel less able to contribute socially and emotionally as well. They are also less likely to marry their child's mother. But children need fathers.

By supporting fathers -- whether through group discussions of fatherhood and masculinity or through the often-daunting process of finding steady employment -- Healthy Start is building strong families. Paul Hope, a 21-year-old father of two, enrolled in the Men's Services program where he was encouraged to support his children with the motto, "No amount is too small."

From small beginnings, great things can grow. Through Healthy Start's support groups, Mr. Hope has found a way to counter the hostility that got him involved in gang activity. He has a job in construction, and the pride that comes from being an important part of his children's lives. Thanks to Healthy Start, he -- and we -- have much to celebrate this weekend.

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