WINNSBORO — The Midlands Fatherhood coalition will hold its annual Walk for Fathers at 9 a.m. Saturday at 1821 Hampton St. to celebrate responsible fatherhood, something Rudolph Walker works to nurture each day at the Fairfield Fatherhood Coalition office in Winnsboro.
In doing so, he draws upon experiences from his youth when this father of four was, for a time, a non-custodial father. Now middle-aged, he works with this advocacy organization to build young men up so they can become the father figures and role models their children need.
It is a gradual process that produces tangible results. A major goal of the coalition is to strengthen the relationship between the custodial parent, with whom children live, and the noncustodial parent.
Community leadership and getting the word out about programs toward self empowerment are two objectives of the coalition, a branch of the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.
“Our program in general is about getting the message out to a lot of fathers understand (how to have an appropriate) relationship to a child. They think that their only value is monetary and if they cannot pay to support a child that they should not be involved at all, but that simply is not the case,” Walker said. “True worth is measured (to us) as the degree a father is a positive force in a child’s life.”
Funded by the Sisters of Charity with a small amount of funding from the S.C. Department of Social Services, Walker said the coalition encourages relationships, relationship building and quality time as well as role modeling and mentoring.
Fathers who feel they need support to carry out their responsibilities can participate for free.
The coalition serves two distinct populations: men who attend voluntarily and men who attend because a judge mandates it. Walker acknowledged that recent enrollment could be better, but he remains passionate and realistically optimistic about reaching young men who otherwise could fall through the cracks.
He said the coalition continues to work with the SC Works center and the community liaison Jackie Workman. Walker also said they partner with adult eduction and GED programming.
Fifty fathers have been served this year (2013). These are currently 41 active participants enrolled. Assistance provided included assistance with work clothing/equipment, parenting, job readiness skills, healthy relationship building and meditation, transportation assistance, legal service referrals, criminal domestic violence referrals and assistance, child support modification and visitation assistance and GED enrollment.
According to the Fairfield office, the fathers in the program paid a total of $20,528.93 in court-ordered child support from Jan. 1 through May 31.
For more information on how to utilize those tools and become a positive male influence in Winnsboro, call 815-0447 or go online to www.midlandsscfathers.com.
Reach staff writer Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or firstname.lastname@example.org.