“FATHER Project” In Park Rapids Provides Support To Community Dads
The annual Park Rapids Daddy-Daughter Dance is, no doubt, a huge celebration.
“The dance,” says Abby Runyan about her favorite part of the evening.
“The dance she likes and we enjoy having time together. It is a good thing,” adds her dad, Joshua Runyan.
But this dance is a lot more than a huge party – it represents a movement called the FATHER Project.
“I really feel that it provides a special moment for dads and daughters to have together something that they’re going to have good memory with and then it also is a special moment for the daughters just to have that special moment to feel like a princess,” says Joshua Maki, a Citizen Father with the FATHER Project.
The FATHER Project was started in Park Rapids eight years ago. Its mission is to support the family unit by providing dads with various resources. The FATHER Project provides mentorship, GED services, case management, employment help and much more.
“It’s basically a program that teaches parenting skills and life skills to dads who don’t always have those skills in their back pocket. The stereotype of dads being the providers and the workers still kind of holds true. That’s a stereotype that just doesn’t let go,” says Brian Loch, Citizen Father with The FATHER Project and board member for the Minnesota Communities Caring for Children.
“Back when this first got started, they wondered if there were even issues with dads in the rural setting, and we’ve proven that over 600 dads – well, we’re almost at 600 dads – have joined voluntarily and through different steps have grown leaps and bounds to be involved in their kids lives, so it’s very essential,” says Joe Johnson, the coordinator of the FATHER Project.
Another mission of the FATHER project is to let dads know that it’s okay to ask for help. Once a dad has completed so many steps in the program, they get the title of Citizen Father.
“Men are inherently macho and they don’t want to learn, per se. So, a program like this really helps to teach fathers how to be there, be in their life, be important,” says Michael Schleicher, a Citizen Father with the project.
By helping fathers be great dads, officials with the FATHER Project say they believe they’re creating a legacy that will live on through their kids for decades to come.
“I just think it’s awesome that they’re doing this for fathers. It’s just a really great opportunity for them,” says Skylie Johnson, Joe’s daughter.
To get involved with the FATHER Project, contact Joe Johnson at Chi St. Joseph’s Health in Park Rapids. You can call (218) 255-2063 or visit their website here.