“I love my kids and I want to be there for them,” said Morris Alexander III. “A lot of these children don’t have father figures and I feel that if one or two of them step up, more will as well.”

Alexander has four girls. One of them attends R. L. Mack Headstart.

Alexander said the program provides monthly planning meetings for fathers and additional support. One of the projects the group of men presented to the children at R.L. Mack Headstart was a visit to the school from Santa Claus.

“We let them sit on Santa’s knee and took a picture of each of them,” Alexander said.

FIP’s mission is to strengthen relationships between fathers and their children as well as to attempt to reverse the absentee father trend. Participants in the program attend training sessions that address such issues as promoting responsible fatherhood and empowering fathers to assume emotional, moral, spiritual, psychological and financial responsibility for their children. The program uses the Father’s Workshop curriculum developed by the National Fatherhood Initiative. Open discussions about issues such as anger and self-confidence are part of the monthly meetings.

R.L. Mack Headstart Center Director Carolyn Sanders said she believes the program makes a difference, and the group is not limited to just fathers.

“We focus on the families that are there but we ask fathers, uncles and grandfathers, anyone of the male persuasion, to come and join what we do,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the program is being implemented in Head Start centers around the world.

“The long-term benefit is that they (the children) begin to understand that it is important to see their fathers and have their fathers in their lives,” Sanders said. “Many of them don’t see their fathers very often and we want them to know that fathers’ roles are as important as mothers’.”

Alexander said FIP fathers have already planned an activity for January.

“We have planned a prom for the kids,” he said. “Everybody will dress up and we will have the prom and then we are taking them all out to eat dinner.”

Anyone wishing to join the program may contact Alexander at 229-256-1518 or Sanders at 382-5110.

To contact city editor Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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