The holidays are time to give back. Some men and women spend their time giving back to their community alongside their families; Unfortunately when you’re homeless, not everyone has that same privilege.
Last December, the Weingart Center Dad’s Back! Program, in collaboration with Friends Outside Los Angeles (FOLA), celebrated the holidays by providing estranged fathers with the opportunity to experience the joy of wrapping gifts for their children. The event had a festive atmosphere, with food and holiday music. Many of these fathers enrolled in the program had not had the opportunity to provide their children with gifts for a very long time. The fathers were able to share about their emotions, both happy and sad, while others shared their gratitude. All were excited to wrap presents for their children along with the help of the staff from both FOLA and the Weingart Center.
In a story of continued success and inspiration, the Weingart Center Dad’s Back! Program celebrated the third Dad’s Back! Program graduation on January 22nd, 2013. A total of 14 graduates attended the event, which included the presentation of certificates of completion, incentives, food, and the sharing of personal gratitude. The clients were able to share about what the Dad’s Back! Program had meant to them, and how they have been able to take advantage of the services, and how it helped them reconnect with their children and family.
Everyone was grateful for having to complete some of the services that included; Responsible Fatherhood classes (Parenting), Job Readiness program, Life Skills classes that included Money Management, job search and relapse prevention. The continued collaboration among providers like FOLA, Clinical Department at WCA, Project Fatherhood, Job Readiness Program at WCA , LA County Child Support Services, Family Reunification Reentry Project, Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, the continued support of the court system, and the Probation/Parole Departments are making Dads Back! an ideal program.
Most impressive may be this past year’s successes, which included many clients able to obtain their driver’s licenses. This form of ID is required in order to secure employment as the result of attending a child support presentation, through a referral to the LA County Department of Child Support Services and WCA Job Readiness program. Some clients were able to establish a fixed monthly payment for their children; Some set forth to arrange court dates to see their children, and others were able to obtain holiday gifts for their children. After their graduation day, many of the fathers were excited to be able to spend quality time with their children.