As families around the country celebrated their fathers on Sunday, there is one nonprofit that works with them year round on how to be better men and fathers.
BronxWorks’ development program Strong Fathers, Stronger Families (SFSF), which was established in 2012, integrates counseling and parenting guidance with career development.
Deshana Hamid, 36, who has been the program coordinator with SFSF for two years, spoke with the Bronx Times about SFSF and its impact on the participants.
She explained SFSF helps dads improve parenting, relationships, communication and find stable employment. There are workshops for two weeks that run Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and if they have a job, dads meet with BronxWorks staff around their schedule.
“Our perceptions of fatherhood come from yesterday’s dad versus today’s dad,” Hamid said. “How do we successfully raise daughters as men?”
The goal is to get rid of the perception of “dead beat dads,” especially in Black and brown communities, she stressed.
After the two week training is finished, they are in constant contact with their case manager, who helps them with their resume, interviews, finding clothes for an interview and landing a job.
“Our participants come in for a job and they leave for a future,” she said.
Hamid recalled there was one father who was in substance abuse recovery and had not seen his family in six years. But the program helped him learn the skills needed to change. In 2019 the father got the opportunity to spend time with his family for the holidays.
SFSF has impacted numerous people, including 53-year-old Dwayne Campbell.
According to Campbell, his life has not been the easiest. He was married, lost his son, fell into depression, dealt with addiction and sold drugs.
In the 90s he was in the drug game and aimed to be a “successful Scarface.”
In 1996 he left it all behind. He went to college and began working various jobs, none of which gave him the money he desired. Campbell was living paycheck to paycheck and often falling behind on rent.
He has four kids and helps take care of 12 from previous relationships. He expressed gratitude to Strong Fathers, Stronger Families and BronxWorks for changing his perspective and making him a better person.
“I learned how to love oneself before you can love anybody else,” he stressed.
Campbell, who has been involved with the program for a year heard about it when he was on public assistance. The city sent him to BronxWorks and they have been a Godsend, he said.
They taught him how to be a good role model and showed him how important it is to appreciate everything his wife does for him, their kids and the home.
“I don’t think I would have been able to do this without BronxWorks showing me how to take care of my kids,” Campbell said. “Any fool can make a kid, but it takes a man to raise them.”