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A Father's Perspective: Dads share testimonials on project

My next two columns will be dedicated to inspiring words from our FATHER Project participants. I want the community to know how this program is impacting lives of fathers for the betterment of their child's future.

If you are contemplating your place as a father, or wondering what the FATHER Project is all about, then let these inspirational men clue you in.

"Where do I start?" Chris, a FATHER Project participant begins. " After being homeless for about a year, I got involved in the FATHER project, and my life has turned around completely.

"At the meetings they feed us, they bring the inner child out of us and teach us ways to connect with our children. I have found employment since joining. I don't have the best record, but they back me up and support me. I'm coming to find out more each time I go there.

"I see my daughter now more than ever. If it wasn't for the FATHER Project, I believe I would still have nothing. I have much gratitude!"

"As it's getting to that time of year...out with the old and in with the new... I'm thankful for the FATHER Project helping me getting out the old and bringing in the new and improved ways of fathering," Matt, a FATHER Project participant states.

"What can I leave for my kids, grandkids and great grandkids?" Ken, another FATHER Project participant asks.

"Normally one would think about money, property or even a thriving business. I did. I wanted to leave this earth knowing they would remember me.

"I've learned that these are just material things, and there are no promises they will be here tomorrow for our kids.

"What can I leave for the next generation? A father they will never forget! As a young father by choice, I always thought I knew best. I've wondered if I raised our kids the right way or the wrong way. You never know until they have their own kids. Then all of a sudden I wondered where they got their attitude.

"Where did they learn that from? Then it hit me. They learned it from me! How do I fix this one?

"The FATHER Project has helped me to start correcting these issues and to talk more with our kids about the things I didn't know. Just like most people, trial and error was how we learned as the doctor didn't give us an owner's manual when we left the hospital. We also did what we knew was best from our parents with our own adaptations.

"After being in the FATHER Project and learning other ways to be a better father, I have some clean-up to do with our kids. This is something that can be left behind for generations to come."

"I lost my child due to some issues, and I was down and in need of some hope, some strong guidance in my life," Mike relates. "I came across a brochure for the FATHER Project and read through it. After leaving a voicemail and a return phone call from Joe Johnson shortly after, we set up to meet.

"As we began to talk I choked up. My eyes filled. I knew inside this was the program for me. I started group the next week. Since I began my involvement, I have gotten my daughter back with full custody. I have learned to see things from my child's point of view and to teach and show proper guidance to my children. I am becoming the "world's best Dad."

I will wrap this up with Mike's final statement; I also recommend every father who is not involved to get involved! Remember, your life is your message. What kind of message are you living?

I could not have said it any better. Here's to being thankful for our families and all the joy they bring to us.

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