Bought that Father’s Day card yet? Here’s a friendly reminder for you, in the form of an editorial on an inspiring Father’s Day event going on in Conway this Saturday:
Helping dads connect or reconnect with their children is the goal of a special Father’s Day celebration on Saturday in Conway, one of about 200 such events sponsored by local housing authorities.
It’s a national event, suggested by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Montele Burton, resident services director for the Housing Authority of Conway. In the United States, there are nearly 4,000 housing authorities. The Conway authority has residents in nearly 300 units in three locations and 20 houses on scattered sites. In an overwhelming majority of the units, the residents are mothers and children. HAC also helps financially through the Section 8 program close to 350 families who have homes in unincorporated Horry County.
“The focus is on trying to reconnect fathers – who can be connected – back to the children,” Burton says. He points out that some dads cannot be connected because they are incarcerated. The program Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will feature games, food and door prizes at Huckabee Community Center. Agencies including A Father’s Place, Coastal Workforce (the S.C. employment agency) Community Legal law office and Coastal Academy Alternative will be represented with a variety of services such as leads on jobs and resume writing. “We welcome anyone in the community.”
For Burton, his job as resident services director is “a passion for me. I grew up without a father in Charlotte, N.C., public housing.” He attended Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. and worked for 14 years for Mecklenburg County government in Charlotte. He was laid off and went back to university to become a certified paralegal, working in criminal defense for two of Charlotte’s top law firms. This work took him to prisons across the country. He’s worked for the HAC for three and a half years.
“When fathers interact, we see productive children come out of the community,” Burton says.
The mission of A Father’s Place is “real simple” according to Director Wallace Evans Jr. The mission is “engaging fathers in the positive support of their children,” Evans says. “We want to make sure men understand their roles, their rights and their responsibilities.”A Father’s Place is one of the dozen United Way of Horry County partners for “strong, safe & healthy families.”
Typically, men are voluntarily in a holistic program of group and individual sessions “about building strong fathers.” For example, for a man needing a job, “we try to get you to see it’s more than getting a job” – it’s being on a career path and job retention. Applicants undergo a thorough background check. More than half the men accepted and who stay with the program, which is at least six months, are successful in some degree. The goal might be getting from A to Z and if the man achieves H, he is a success. Currently, 22 volunteers and 12 court-mandated men are in the Horry County program and 28 volunteers and 2 mandated men are in Georgetown County. The annual goal is a total of 220, or 110 men in Horry and Georgetown. Evans has a staff of eight, four in Conway and Myrtle Beach and four in Georgetown. A Father’s Place is part of the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families. The annual budget is $430,000.
Father’s Day Celebration
When | Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where | Huckabee Community Center, 2303 Leonard Ave., Conway
What | Games, fun, food, door prizes; agencies on hand to answer questions about services and programs for families. Male mentors available for questions.
More Info | Montele Burton, 843-248-7327, Ext. 104