By Avis Denise Files, Director of Family and Supportive Services, Pathway Inc.
Special to The Truth
It’s been seven years since Avis Files, director of Family and Supportive Services, and six other millennials wrote a Responsible Fatherhood grant to The Department of Health and Human Services, Administration For Children and Families to begin Brothers United.
The program was originally designed to work with young men ages 16-24 who lived it the 10 worst neighborhoods as defined by crime. The program used a pure randomized control trail to study four key areas in the lives of fathers in Lucas County Ohio.
This study had four primary research questions to understand the impact of the Brothers United Fatherhood Program on intervention participants’ attitudes and behaviors related to healthy marriage and their finances: Do program participants, when compared to control participants, at one year after enrollment have more positive self-reported attitudes and behaviors with respect to: (1) Learning new opportunities for economic mobility and the demonstration of job readiness skills; (2) Improved communication and conflict resolution toward partner, including resolving conflicts leading to domestic violence; (3) Understanding of healthy marriage and its value to fathers; (4) Demonstrated understanding of financial planning. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (Identifier: NCT03021226).
During that time 2015-2020 Pathway Inc. Brothers United served 1,818 Fathers who have 5,057 children. “The impact we made in this community with fathers will live on for generations to come,” said Files. “I am amazed at the level of dedication and tenacity that the many Brothers United staff and to help accomplish the goal. They worked long late hours and on weekends. They went above and beyond to ensure that fathers were respected and treated fairly and developed this one minute message”
Pathway Inc. Brothers United believes that children are important; every day we support and advocate for fathers because when children have involved Fathers the whole community thrives.
There is a quote by Margaret Mead that says: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Pathway Inc. Brothers United’s Fatherhood Program has a small staff yet they are committed to promoting positive impact and change for fathers in Lucas County. Father involvement has proven research that shows that every social ill can be eliminated by ensuring that fathers are involved in the lives of their children.
Two years later, Brothers United is still giving and at a greater capacity than before. “If you listen to the people you serve they will tell you the next move,” says Files as she recalls time and time again the men whom we serve tell us that we needed to start a program for Mothers.
In 2019 we begin Sisters United, a Motherhood program with a generous donation from The Toledo Community Foundation. It was never our intent to work with mothers yet as we learned more about fathers we realized that they cared about the mothers of their children and wanted them to receive the same services they did, upon completion of the original pilot we were invited to receive $50,00.00 from The Toledo Foundation to continue the work.
We were disappointed we didn’t win the government grant again, said Files but little did I know that without it our services would grow. Ms. Files now has several programs still serving and growing in Lucas County to assist Fathers and Families.
- Brothers United- A program funded through The Ohio Commission on Fatherhood- Brothers United is a comprehensive Fatherhood program serving fathers in Lucas County who are in need of services related to father engagement and child support. We are also serving young men ages 12-17 who are NOT Fathers.
- Brothers United Healthy Start-A program funded through The Lucas County Health Department – We are a collaborating member of The Lucas County Health Department providing Fatherhood services to expectant fathers whose children are 17 months or less.
- Community and Faith Based Infant Mortality Grant- A grant that will focus on supportive services in working with expectant parents and parents of infants under one year of age in 43607 and 43604 area codes to decrease infant mortality.
- Brothers and Sisters United- Programs funded by The Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. These programs serve fathers and mothers and joins them together for co-parenting sessions.
- MacArthur Grant- A program funded by Lucas County Safety and Justice Challenge grant- serving returning citizen parents to 43607 and 43604 zip codes with Brothers and Sisters United comprehensive co-parenting services.
“We have received so much support from the community,” says Files, “The first donation we received was from The Toledo Chapter of the NAACP we are very grateful to Dr. Pastor William Perryman for his consideration to support our services with so many other things that they could support.
“We are also grateful to Terry Crosby and The Taylor Automotive Family for their generous donation to support our programs. We recently completed The 12 Days of Giving campaign in which Taylor Automotive will match any donation given.
“We are grateful to serve our community in a way that makes it easier for them to speak and share with us while working in the 10 worst neighborhoods is challenging the rewards are greater, helping parents become the best they can be for their children is the greatest gift of all. We are pleased to serve and continue to serve those who need us.”
For more information or to support any of the programs: call or text (419) 279-0798 or find us at www.pathwaytoledo.org under Department of Family and Supportive Services.