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FATHER project grows: seeing personal issues as community projects

Joe Johnson

“Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.” - Albert Camus

We continue to see growth at the FATHER Project, and I don’t mean in just the number of dads coming through our program. As we continue to serve fathers, our Hubbard County FATHER Project site is adding new and exciting programs for fathers, children and families.

The FATHER Project has celebrated its third leadership group graduation recently. It’s hard to believe that we have already come this far. To witness fathers grow and transform for the betterment of their children and spouses is simply amazing!

Now we are offering two new ways for dads to continue their involvement with a newly-formed relationship group and an assemblage of Citizen Fathers.

‘Within My Reach’

“Within My Reach,” a relationship group geared for couples, offers a holistic approach to serving moms and dads together. Our first group is underway and has been well received. For a father to be included in the relationship group, he has come through our parenting and leadership programs.

By this time, their children’s mothers have truly noticed amazing changes in these men. They, too, express interest in parenting and relationship growth and become involved at the FATHER Project. We are so blessed to be able to meet their needs!

Citizen Fathers

I am very pleased to announce the very first Citizen Fathers group has begun in northern Minnesota.

Citizen Fathers are an elite group of dads who have climbed every step possible in the FATHER Project program, expressed the desire to help others and are willing to help improve their community. As captured in their mission statement, they are “Fathers working together to support, educate and develop healthy, active fathers and to rebuild family and community values.”

A Citizen Father is dedicated to his children and works to build a community that supports and develops healthy and active fathers. This is a loving and compassionate group of fathers who want to see all fathers step up for their kids and to see their communities embrace change for the sake of healthier families.

Citizen Fathers see personal problems as public issues, too. They look to family and community resources first, make decisions democratically, personalize initiatives for the local culture, and so much more. They think big, act practically and let their light shine.

You will begin to see more area Citizen Fathers stepping out, stepping up, and leading the way for other fathers who want to become involved in the FATHER Project.

Come and check us out if you’re a dad and really want to make a difference in the lives of your children by making a difference in yourself. All are welcome.

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 218-255-2063 or email


It’s a proud moment for fathers when they graduate from a leadership group course at the Hubbard County FATHER Project in Park Rapids.

The FATHER Project is a program of Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota sponsored through St. Joseph’s Area Health Services Community Health. The leadership program takes fathers who have successfully completed a parenting skills group and introduces them to nurturing father curriculum.

Six dads to graduate from the father leadership group recently include Victor Chounard, Jose Fajardo, Scott Forsberg, Doug Hafner, Curt Kako and Rick Kruft.

“Dads who make it to this point have come through a minimum of 24 group sessions to complete this process,” says Joe Johnson, FATHER Project case manager and parenting facilitator. “Dads can then advance to become Citizen Fathers and can join our newly developed relationship group. They can also receive training to co-facilitate other FATHER Project groups.”

Among FATHER Project groups are:

n Parenting group: This group focuses on parenting skills.

n Leadership group: Participants in this group focus on self-examination, a critical component to becoming a great dad.

n Citizen Fathers: This group of dedicated dads takes what they have learned and work to build a community that supports and develops healthy, involved fathers.

n Within My Reach: This new relationship group offers a holistic approach to serving moms and dads together.

To learn more about these groups or other services provided through the FATHER Project, please call Cleo Hartung, FATHER Project coordinator, at 255-4160.