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Words of hope from Dads

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'Whether you live to be 50 or 100 makes no difference, if you made no difference in the world.'

- Jarod Kintz

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It is an honor to know each of our FATHER Project participants and it is inspiring to watch them grow as parents. Please embrace and appreciate more inspiring words from our Fathers of the FATHER Project, continued from our previous column.

"When I started the FATHER Project, I was skeptical, but I wanted to be the best father I could be. I made a commitment to stick to my fatherhood plan and attend twice a month, but after a few groups I found myself attending every week and have since graduated from the parenting program.

I still go every week because they are always bringing us new information about ways to grow as dads, and I enjoy being a part of the fun atmosphere and interaction with other fathers.

I have also had the chance to go to the Twin Cities to be trained as a co-facilitator and now will have the opportunity to help other fathers. I am proud of my accomplishments and will continue the program for as long as I can. Randy - FATHER Project participant.

"I first met Joe Johnson while I was sitting on the grass outside of St. Joseph's Area Health Services with my kids.

This guy (Joe) walked by and said hi and continued to walk across the street. I saw him approach his car, and then he turned around and came back across the street, introduced himself and asked me if I had heard of the FATHER Project.

We exchanged some conversation, he gave me his card, and shortly afterward I joined the program. I have enjoyed many things while being involved.

I have learned a wide range of educational ideas about parenting and being a father, especially in the area of proper discipline with our children. I have met and become close to many fathers from around the area.

I believe any man can be a dad, but it takes a real man to be a father. I am still learning from the group. I have since graduated and still continue to attend. I have come to the conclusion that it takes a village to raise a child, and that is what we are doing together at the FATHER Project." Gary - FATHER Project participant

"I can safely say that the FATHER Project has been the greatest help in shaping who I am today as a person, a father and a boyfriend.

I have learned so much about how to be a better father to my daughter and how to deal with the good and bad situations that I have and will come across in parenthood.

FATHER Project staff members are terrific mentors and are great at helping me through parenting issues. It is very reassuring to know that they are so supportive and are only a phone call away if I ever need solid advice.

Since joining the FATHER Project, I have learned a lot about how to be the best father I can be, including how to discipline, how to better control emotional strain and how to better understand my daughter.

I could never thank my mentors at the FATHER Project enough for all they have done and continue to do for me!" Jerry - FATHER Project participant

I can talk all day about what we do and the lives that are impacted and changed by the FATHER Project, but it's better to hear it from those who are truly in need of help and are transformed from the work we do here.

All of us at the FATHER Project work together to develop and inspire an understanding of love. We love all those with whom we interact, honor everyone's life story, and show compassion and dedication to all involved. In short, we do what we love, and love what we do.

Parents of the world... hug your children and tell them you love them!

Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota. To learn more about participating in Fathering Skills classes, call him at 255-2063 or e-mail josephjohnson@catholic health.net.

Editor's note: Joe Johnson and his wife Amanda have two children. He is a licensed master trainer/consultant for St. Joseph's Area Health Services Community Health Nurturing Fathers Program and is a case manager for the FATHER Project.

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