I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son. I want to share and highlight a few community support programs that have had a big impact on my life and that of my son’s because I know that it is so important to breakdown the stigma of getting support as a parent. But first, I want to tell you about my son.
I am a father to a 9 year-old boy who has has the funniest sense of humor. He has this awesome joy inside of him that marvels over the simplest things, like a dollar store toy, a plastic device that makes snowballs or even a pack of gum. And, through his wonderment of these things he teaches me that life doesn’t have to be so complex and I too can enjoy the simple moments. My son and I have an amazingly strong relationship built on trust, love and the ability to learn and grow…together. I am honored and privileged to be a father.
But, parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey. These are just a few of the community organizations that have made an impact on my family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Springs Rescue Mission
It was late in the year and it started to get cold outside. I had exhausted all other resources and had to find housing very quickly. As I entered the shelter at Springs Rescue Mission for the very first time, I was greeted with open arms and care. Immediately, I had a bed and began to learn what resources were available to me.
The caregivers at Springs Rescue Mission were amazing at connecting me to everything I needed. I had some medical issues and was put into contact with a doctor within days. I was shown where to get food at a number of locations. As you might imagine, my stress and anxiety levels were high and I was quickly connected to a provider to manage my mental health. When it came to generating income, Springs Rescue Mission was able to provide me with electricity and internet access so that I could continue to support the remote clients that I had. They also had jobs posted every week and clinics available for resume building and interviewing skills.
When times were difficult, I could reach out and talk to any of the shelter employees and they listened to me as we talked through issues that affected me as a parent. I can’t thank Springs Rescue Mission enough for supporting my basic needs, connecting me to all the resources I needed, and for helping me get back on my feet. This is just one shelter among many that provide a roof, food, and hands to help guide us back upwards.
Circle of Parents
The Circle of Parents® in Colorado is an online and in-person weekly meeting where parents come together, share thoughts, ideas and problems. In return, those in the group receive advice and resources to help make parenting a little easier. It’s a collection of parents needing help and through the bonds that are built… grow stronger, together. You learn very quickly in groups like these that you are never alone and help is just an email, text or phone call away.
For me, each week connects me to other fathers that are knowledgeable about local parent/child events and educational opportunities like parenting books, articles, or websites. It’s a safe place to share challenges and success stories and bond with other fathers.
Although there are many more organizations I could share, I do want to mention just one more; the Center on Fathering which has been a bedrock of support to strengthen our role as parents through parenting classes, support groups and access to educational materials.
I reached out to community organizations for help and it’s made me a better parent. If I can leave you with just one message today, it would be this… it’s OK for parents to ask for support. We all need it. We all need to connect with one another—as parents—to share the information, resources, tips and tricks that we learn along the way.
Build Concrete Support in Times of Need
When families are connected and have access to concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. This is what child abuse prevention looks like in my life. Together, we can become the best parents we can be. For fathers, it feels especially difficult for us to reach out to one another to connect as parents and get support. This is the pledge I make to myself, to continue to connect and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together.
Dave is a proud father to his nine year-old son living in Colorado Springs. He has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced homelessness and spends his time helping other fathers make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment.
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