James and Mariah arrived at First Care Clinic looking for resources. Another local agency had referred them to us because, in addition to being homeless and sleeping in their car, Mariah was pregnant. That agency knew Care Net was the ideal place to help the family find resources.

Housing was a top priority, but we also discussed other help they might need. We talked to them about our parenting and education classes and both were eager to participate.

James also met with our fatherhood coordinator on the same day. “What is your relationship like with your father?” he asked James.

“He was never in my life when I was a kid. When I was about 21, he showed up at our apartment. But that was only because he wanted something. I’ve never really had a father in my life.”

It was clear that James still carried the wounds left from a childhood without a father. He shared stories of his childhood, describing the loneliness and disappointment he had experienced. After a few minutes, our fatherhood coordinator said, “You’re in a position to change that. You can provide what you never had. You’ll be able to give your son the unconditional love that you needed.”

James responded, “I’ve never had unconditional love from my father.” Then added, “I’ve never said that out loud before.” The conversation moved on, but still James kept repeating those words that gave truth to the empty and lost feeling that he never had the words to express as a young boy.

Men who have had a poor or non-existent relationship with their fathers can find it difficult to step into that role with their own children. It’s our goal to help them realize that even though the past can’t be undone, the future is theirs to create. They can establish new, healthy patterns that change the future and impact generations to come.

James has continued to meet with us to talk about important topics such as fathering skills and maintaining healthy relationships. He wants to become an involved father. Thanks to your help, he is ready to step confidently into his new role as Dad.

* Names changed throughout to protect privacy.