Mother to Mother Ministry reaches out to dads

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mother to Mother Ministry of Bourbon County is trying to reach out to area dads through a new fatherhood program.

The nonprofit organization, which helps mothers and families facing various needs, has received a grant for a fatherhood program to promote fatherly involvement in a child's life and help dads who need support. The $5,000 grant provided by the Rosalie D. Manley Endowment Fund helps fund activities for dads and children to participate in activities the fathers may not otherwise have the means for, Mother to Mother Program Director Wilma Leach said.

"We want to reach out to dads and provide activities for them to spend time with kids," she said. "This is for dads that don't have the income or opportunities."

The local program began last Friday, Feb. 24, when Leach took a group of four dads and six children to a basketball game at Fort Scott High School. Leach said the fathers appreciated being able to enjoy the game with their kids.

"We had been talking about the importance of fathers in the family," Leach said of how the fatherhood program came about. "With the economy, people don't have the money to do things with their kids. And the government is kind of pushing it."

Although there was a small turnout for the first activity, Leach said she hopes to grow the program to include more dads in the future.

"We'd like to have more dads," she said.

Leach said she has budgeted four additional activities this year, one of which may be a fishing derby. She added the program is also open to any dads who want to participate in more activities with their children, not just low-income families. She said future events will include a mixture of dads with various income levels.

As part of a fatherhood program in 2006, Mother to Mother sponsored a bowling party for fathers and their children. More than 100 dads and kids attended the event, which was meant to "encourage dads to spend time with their kids," Leach said.

That event was funded through the Southeast Kansas Community Action program. A father/child event in 2007, also funded by a grant from SEKCAP, involved a rodeo at Fort Scott Community College. About 240 fathers and children attended that event.

Leach said many of the participating dads have personally thanked her for sponsoring the events.

"At the bowling event, I had a father come to me in tears, saying 'Thank you. Thank you,'" she said.

Mother to Mother started in 1998 as a program that helped single mothers in Bourbon County but has since expanded to include families. The organization provides parenting classes and such necessities as cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes and infant formula. The group can also help with payment of utility bills, Leach said.

The organization only receives money from the United Way, grants and donations, Leach said.