Helping men with children become fathers
Through their donor advised fund, Kathy and Brian MacLean are helping fathers who participate in the Dads Making a Difference program at Children’s Friend and in the Fatherhood Program at Amos House.
“A pathway to hope.” That’s how Kathy and Brian MacLean think of the support they’re providing to fathers and, by extension, their children.
The MacLean’s donor advised fund helps fathers who participate in the Dads Making a Difference program at Children’s Friend and in the Fatherhood Program at Amos House. “These men want to be good fathers to their kids,” Kathy says, with Brian adding, “Most of them grew up in a world with so little hope and so little opportunity.”
Since 2015, the MacLeans have provided grants to Dads Making a Difference, a 12-week job training program to learn vocational skills. The goal is for participants to gain full-time employment and improve their family’s economic security. To date, 73% of the dads have secured jobs after completing the program. Dads also receive ongoing, one-on-one support and are encouraged to participate in a Dads Support Group.
The MacLeans also have funded the Fatherhood Program at Amos House, which gives formerly homeless fathers the opportunity to reunite with their children in a positive, supportive environment. As fathers become more involved in their children’s lives, they are more likely to take financial responsibility for their families.
The MacLeans credit the Foundation with introducing them to these programs. They were new to Rhode Island in 2014, hoping to help but not sure how to best make a difference. At the time, they said, “We want the Foundation to help identify and screen organizations for us as we don’t yet know the community.” They shared that one of their interests was parenting/mentoring programs for young fathers.
“The big advantage of working with the Rhode Island Foundation is that it knows the needs of the community."- Brian MacLean
“We were looking for direction,” Brian acknowledges. “The big advantage of working with the Rhode Island Foundation is that it knows the needs of the community. The reason we’ve stepped up is because we feel good about the Foundation and how its staff have connected us with programs we’re interested in.”
“We’re focused on the role fathers play in their children’s lives. When men are able to develop stable lives for themselves, it allows them to extend stability to those around them,” Kathy says.
Reflecting on graduation ceremonies he’s attended for Dads Making a Difference, Brian explains, “When you sit across a table and hear the men talk about what the program means to them, it’s really inspirational.”
One program graduate explains, "The Dad's program completely understood where I was coming from, where I wanted to go, and they helped me every step along the way. That program has literally changed my life."
Kathy continues, “The men speak of hardships they’ve faced, but also of how they want to be better dads for their kids. Some of these men have never had anyone thinking about them and helping them try to be better. Having support has given them hope. And that hope is the path that allows them to better themselves and their families.”