The Triton Review

Community efforts help fathers and families facing challenges

Community+members+gathered+in+Gateway+Hall+in+January+for+a+Partnership+for+Fathers+and+Families+Networking+event.+
Community members gathered in Gateway Hall in January for a Partnership for Fathers and Families Networking event.

Community members gathered in Gateway Hall in January for a Partnership for Fathers and Families Networking event.

Kyle Whitmer

Kyle Whitmer

Community members gathered in Gateway Hall in January for a Partnership for Fathers and Families Networking event.

Kyle Whitmer, Staff Writer, Photographer

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There are many highly dedicated societal efforts within communities throughout America and most of the world devoted to helping women and children in need of medical, financial, educational and residential support. There may indeed be little lack of effort for helping mothers in need in Washington State.

As many of the resources provided by angelic organizations and people go underappreciated, it begs the question: Who is there for the fathers of those families?

For fathers with disabled children, financial issues, or a criminal history who reside in Washington, there might be a spark of hope yet.

The Partnership for Fathers & Families hosts large-scale networking events to bring together different programs and organizations who are deeply committed to helping fathers and their families. This tri-county effort draws in leaders and resources from King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties.

The Partnership for Fathers & Families tries to hold a networking event every season of the year continuously, rotating the location of each meeting between the three counties. This summer they hope to put on a networking fair at the Seattle Center, but that plan has yet to be concrete.

Networking events feature different guest speakers who help spread awareness of programs dedicated to helping fathers and families with different needs, in an effort to spread resources around to those who are in need.

During winter quarter, Edmonds Community College had the honor of hosting one of the Partnership for Fathers & Families networking events. About 40 people dedicated to helping out fathers and families turned out at Gateway Hall on EdCC’s north campus on Jan 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

An appetizing and delicious lunch was provided by EdCC’s own culinary arts students and was contributed by UnitedHealthcare. Along with several people representing programs dedicated to helping fathers and families in need, there were two guest speakers who focused on justice-involved fathers.

The first speaker was Shayne Rochester who is a part of the Snohomish County Parent Advocacy Committee. The second speaker was Merritt Hicks from Edmonds Community College, who spoke about her experience helping justice-involved fathers personally and on behalf of the Next Steps Program.

The Next Steps Program provides classes for justice-involved parents and custodians at various locations within Snohomish County, as well as classes at Edmonds Community College every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-4:30 p.m. to help lead people in need to employment.

Their participants hold a 77 percent success rate in obtaining employment spanning from fields in construction, engineering, culinary arts and many more. The Next Steps Program also provides access to different community resources, GED classes, case management support and parenting classes as listed on one of their flyers.

Jan Strand is the director of the WorkForce Development Department at EdCC, and is also the program director of Next Steps. In an interview she said, “The students will be connected to programs that are dedicated to help with housing, transportation and education.”

To learn more information about the Next Steps Program and their classes you can call them at (425) 640-1192 or email at [email protected].

Another highly involved organization to help fathers and families present at the Partnership for Fathers & Families winter networking event was the Washington State Fathers Network.

Washington State Fathers Network is part of Kindering, an organization that provides education and therapy for children with developmental delays.

For over 35 years The Washington State Fathers Network continues to bring together dads with children who have special needs, to help educate them on how to be “competent and compassionate caregivers for their children,” as stated on their website. They also emphasize the value in having a strong father figure in a child’s life.

The Washington State Fathers Network host events to bring together fathers to share their personal stories and challenges as well as provide access to resources that can help. Some events are just for fathers while others welcome and encourage their families to participate as well. Along with just simple social gatherings they host poker nights and even super bowl parties for fathers and families to come to.

There are many testimonials on the Washington State Fathers Network website of people who participated in their events praising the organization. They are not a therapy group but many people claim meeting up and sharing stories can be therapeutically inclined. You can learn more at their website, Fathersnetwork.org or their Facebook page by simply searching Washington State Fathers Network.

The Director of the Washington State Fathers Network Louis Mendoza was at the Partnership for Fathers & Families networking event at EdCC and talked about the value of networking during an interview.

“The Partnership was started by a group of people that saw a need to pull groups together in order to help fathers and families,” Mendoza said on the group’s inception.

Mendoza encouraged the meaningfulness and importance of having networking events, “There are a lot of benefits to having meetings like this. People can come and hear about organizations more in-depth and spread awareness to help fathers and families.”

He continued, “Meeting in person at events like this is more meaningful than over the phone or email. One person drove two and a half hours to come here today. People really see value in these meetings.”

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Kyle Whitmer, Photographer

Kyle Whitmer signed on as a photographer for the Triton Review shortly after transferring from Cascadia Community College to EdCC the fall quarter of 2017. Inspired to make a difference, he is driven by his passion for photography and writing to become a better journalist all around. Kyle is working...

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