Helping dads making a difference

Published in the Hartford Courant on June 16, 2024

As we celebrate Father’s Day, it’s important to recognize the undeniably advantageous benefits of a father’s presence in a child’s life. At Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford, we believe good fathers can help foster stronger, healthier families and stronger, healthier communities. 

Our Fatherhood programs in Hartford and New Haven are based on the keystone principle that helping fathers improve their lives makes it more likely for their sons or daughters to achieve social, emotional, mental, and physical success. The voluntary programs offer weekly group sessions where men help each other by sharing experiences and talking about the stress and emotions they deal with.

Participants have opportunities to complete job training programs, register with the Department of Labor’s CT Hires System, earn a GED, and learn about finances. We also help them deal with child support or paternity issues and encourage them to spend more time with their children and learn about parenting skills.

Luis Santiago, director of the Southside Family Center in Hartford for Catholic Charities, was one of the first Fatherhood Specialists when the program started and said he saw a number of men who were hopeless when they joined but by the end it was clear that they would have a future with their kids.

“They were coming back and telling me ‘I’m talking with my kids more, I’m spending more time with them, I’m making them more of a priority in my life’,” Santiago said, describing the positive transformations he witnessed.

The Fatherhood program is just one of many offered by Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford, a nonprofit agency dedicated to serving people of all faiths, backgrounds and ages in Hartford, Litchfield, and New Haven counties. Like every Catholic Charities agency in the country, we offer a wide variety of services that suit the unique needs of our communities because it is important for people in need to know we are there for them.

“We Are There” is a foundational calling and also the title of a national campaign launched last week by Catholic Charities USA, the national membership organization for the 168 Catholic Charities agencies. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness of the different ways each independent agency strives to ensure all people have the hope and dignity we all deserve. (As part of the campaign, you might see a 30-second video that includes a short clip of a Hartford middle student playing the violin as part of our Community Schools program.)

Whether you are a supporter or client or someone unfamiliar with our agency but wanting to learn, we invite you to join us on this mission and be there with us. You can learn more about Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford at www.ccaoh.org and learn about the We Are There campaign at www.wearethere.us.

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