A Community That Believes In Fathers:  Brothers United is Changing the Narrative

Avis Files

By Mariah Maddox, Brothers United
Special to The Truth

Brothers United has been serving Toledo’s most challenging neighborhoods since 2015, having a seven-year track record. As of April 1, 2022, the Fatherhood program has served 2,158 fathers and 5,776 children. And we only plan to serve more! Because Pathway Inc. Brothers United Fatherhood Program believes that all children are important. Every day, we support and advocate for Fathers because when children have involved Fathers the whole community thrives.

The work that we do has been evident over the years, not only to our fathers and their families, but to the city as well. As of April 2022, our Brothers United program has been given $100,000 from the Lucas County Commissioner’s office in order for us to continue to provide our services to fathers and families. It is truly an honor to have city officials that believe in the work that we are doing enough to support us financially.

If you are unaware about our programs and the services that we offer, here is a little information on them. Brothers United has three subsets: BYouth, Brothers United Healthy Start, and Brothers and Sisters United.

Brothers United serves low income TANF eligible fathers and non-TANF fathers, non- custodial fathers, inmates, those recently released from prison whose children are 18 years or younger. This program helps facilitate to Fathers the importance of Fatherhood and Healthy Relationships with their co-parent and their children.

BYouth is Pathway Inc.’s newest program that serves young men, 12-17 years old, who are NOT yet fathers. Its purpose is to allow young men to learn about fatherhood and healthy relationships before they become fathers. Parental consent is needed before the young men can start the program.

Brothers United Healthy Start serves mothers and fathers with an expecting co-parent connected to Healthy Start or fathers who have a child between 0-17 months. Its purpose is to assist fathers with babies in order to decrease the infant mortality rate, especially amongst African American infants.

Brothers and Sisters United serves mothers and fathers in Lucas County. Its purpose is to teach healthy relationships and encourage healthier co-parenting habits in order to cultivate healthier families.

Avis Files, director of Family and Supportive Services, is proud of the work BU has done and continues to do within the community.

“The work of Pathway Inc. Brothers United Fatherhood Program is vital to this community. The impact that the program has made shows that this community appreciates and needs the services that are provided. We will continue to be a grassroots, boots-on-the-ground program because that’s what this community needs, especially with us focusing on the 10 most challenging neighborhoods in Lucas County where high poverty and high crime exist.”

A few commissioners talked about why they support the work that Pathway Inc. is doing with fathers and families.

Commissioner Pete Gerken: “As a single father raising children, I know the struggles of working to make ends meet while making child support payments. During my tenure serving as a Lucas County Commissioner, we have invested in and are committed to ensuring that children have ample opportunities to grow and learn in healthy sustainable environments. The work that Pathway, Inc. performs supporting fathers in Lucas county helps to strengthen single parent and co-parenting relationships within families. Our commitment to fathers and families comes with understanding the historical disparities associated with fathers being displaced in various sectors such as education, employment, and within the criminal justice system. The Lucas County Board of County Commissioners and its subsidiaries have partnered with Pathway, Inc. to help raise awareness of these issues and will continue to seek programs and services that support Fatherhood in the everyday lives of children.”

Commissioner Gary Byers: “We like to support grassroots programs such as Brothers United! It reflects real people helping real people. Brothers United is a program that changes the community. We are proud to support a program that is innovative in it’s approach and we support Fathers and families in Lucas County.”

Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak: “Pathway’s Brothers United program provides a critical service for our community. It gives fathers the support and the resources they need to strengthen their relationships with their children and to become the role models their sons and daughters deserve. Lucas County is proud to provide funding for the Brothers United program so this incredible community work can continue.”

Brothers United and all of its efforts continues to be supported by the community that we serve. Our hope is to continue serving families and changing  the narrative that Fathers matter and play an vital  role in their children’s lives and in family dynamics.

If you would like further information on any of the programs, please visit our website, www.pathwaytoledo.org, or contact Avis Files, the director of Family and Supportive Services, at 419-279-0798 or afiles@pathwaytoledo.org.