Local fatherhood initiative celebrates its successes

Dozens of people were in attendance at the Fatherhood Clark County Volunteer Recognition Luncheon last Thursday, which featured Monica Mahoney, Policy Coordinator at the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood, as guest speaker.

“I am so impressed with the work that’s being done here,” said Mahoney.

She said that Eli Williams, Director of the Clark County Fatherhood Commission, is a leader nationally in promoting fatherhood participation in the lives of children.

Before handing out plaques and certificates to those who have filled various roles in the local effort, Williams told the group, “You have been at the forefront of fatherhood activities.”

Bob Suver, retired Director of Clark County Department of Job and Family Services, recalled how he joined the Clark County Fatherhood Commission Board in 2008 — the second such program to be established in the state. Since that time, he said much has been achieved, thanks to the coalition of community organizations that are part of the effort.

He pointed to the increased awareness of the problems associated with absentee fathers, and the various programs designed and implemented to address those problems. Among them are the recent “FatherFest” on the Springfield City Hall Plaza, the “My Dad Rocks” event (in which children write essays and produce artwork celebrating the impact their fathers have in their lives) and the Clergy Summit on Fatherhood held earlier this year in Springfield that included 31 local pastors.

I have had the privilege of being the emcee for the Fatherfest Kickoff the past couple years and have seen first-hand some of the work of these dedicated volunteers, as well as the impact the local program has had on the community. While a great deal of work is yet to be done, it is encouraging to see what has been accomplished so far.

A real highlight of the kickoff was listening to the presentations of the children who took part in “My Dad Rocks” and to witness the reactions of their dads.

Through interviews over the years with some of the people involved in the local effort, I have been reminded of the reason for the success of this program, as well as a number of similar initiatives in our community. Significant cooperation between the organizations, agencies and dedicated people, working together to solve problems and to make ours a better community, has been a key.

Williams tells me there are exciting plans being developed by the Clark County Fatherhood Commission.

When the time is right, I look forward to bringing you all the details about those plans as well.

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