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September 12, 2015

The State gives front-page play to the work of our fatherhood programs

Jermaine Johnson, second from right, Midlands Fatherhood Coalition intervention specialist, talks to a group about financial stability and economic development during a meeting in Lexington. The coalition offers education and services uniquely tailored for fathers trying to rebuild their lives and their families. Photo by Gerry Melendez

The work of the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families was featured prominently and ably in a front-page, centerpiece story in The State on Sunday, Sept. 13.

The story, by The State's Sarah Ellis, was an in-depth look at the three Sisters of Charity ministries that will remain in Columbia and in South Carolina after the proposed sale of Providence Hospital.

Here's an excerpt from what Ms. Ellis wrote about the Center:

There were plenty of nights when Wayne Duncan cried himself to sleep over his son, whom he did not get to see for about three months because of a dispute with the boy's mother, he said.

Just a couple weeks ago, Duncan won joint custody of 6-year-old Elijah, thanks in part to the support and encouragement of the Lexington fatherhood peer group led by the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.

The group, a collection of roughly a dozen fathers and noncustodial mothers, come together each week because they want to or because they have to, required by the Department of Social Services or court order. What they have in common is a need and desire to be a positive presence in their children's lives....

Absent fathers are no good for anyone, the sisters believe, and are one of the root issues behind generational poverty. That's why, in 2002, the sisters founded the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, an umbrella nonprofit that organizes and oversees other programs around the state, including the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.

"The vast majority of fathers that we work with are not deadbeat," said Pat Littlejohn of Columbia, executive director of the Center. "They're really dead broke and have nowhere to turn. They've reached the end of their rope, and they deeply love their children and really want to do the right thing. So that's where we come in."...

"We respect this position of fatherhood," Littlejohn said. "I believe every dad has it in him to be a good dad. And a lot of dads don't see their own value. That's part of what we have to say is, 'Dude, do you have any idea how valuable you are?'"...

There was more, and we urge you to go read the whole thing.

Thanks so much to Sarah Ellis, Gerry Melendez and The State for telling our story so well!

Sarah Ellis of The State meets our own Charles Brown and Pat Littlejohn. Photographer Gerry Melendez is at right.