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February 17, 2016

Getting off to a great start in Sumter

Mayor Joe McElveen welcomed the program to Sumter.

Midlands Fatherhood Coalition took the first step toward serving fathers and families statewide on Wednesday, Feb. 17, with a special event to introduce the program to leaders in Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties.

Mayor Joe McElveen kicked off the session on the campus of USC-Sumter, telling a story that showed he understood the need for what we do: When he was a legislator working on welfare reform in the 1990s, he had noticed there were a lot of programs out there to help mothers, but nothing for dads. He was therefore particularly happy to welcome the program to his town.

Other speakers included Katie Morgan, director of Child Support Services at DSS; Pat Littlejohn, executive director of the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families; Richard Barr, director of community development and programming at the Center; and of course the site director for the new office, Keith Ivey.

Jack Osteen, editor and publisher of The Item in Sumter, attended the meeting and wrote about it for the paper:

"We need to treat people with a handshake, not a hammer," said Katie Morgan, director of Child Support Services Division for DSS.

Morgan said this type of program is the best way to engage dads that is also constructive for the children. She also emphasized that 90 percent of the staff involved with Fatherhood Coalition is men.

"The key strategy in getting rid of poverty is strengthening families," said Patricia Littlejohn, executive director for the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families. "This is part of something even bigger in the state of South Carolina."

Keith Ivey, site director for the new Sumter office, told the crowd he felt like he won the lottery with this job.

"Men in this community can be more successful if they know there is someone there to help and guide them," he said....

As Mr. Osteen noted, this is the 13th office for our fatherhood programs in South Carolina. See more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Next week: On to Florence!