To build strong families that will endure and nurture new life, we must encourage—literally “put courage into”—the men of those families. One of Care Net’s volunteer male mentors, Tom Myers (photo, center), says it best: “Life is complicated! While true for all of us, the complications increase a hundredfold when you are young, financially unstable, from a broken family and/or not finished with your education. Then add an unplanned pregnancy and the world can appear to be crashing down on many of the men who come through the doors of Care Net.”
Those men are a diverse group. “Most are willing, if not from their own desire to be a good father, then from their wives’ or girlfriends’ (ahem) recommendations; others are court-ordered either as part of a custody battle or, sadly, after ‘troubles at home,’” Tom said.
Male mentors shepherd their clients through Care Net’s educational programs, building a unique schedule for each one based on his specific situation. Among the wealth of options are Fatherhood, Co-Parenting, Life Skills, Positive Partnerships, Parenting and many more.
But the mentors don’t stop with coursework. They also draw from their own experience as husbands and fathers. “Communicating what we’ve learned as fathers makes the educational content real, relevant and impactful to our clients,” Tom said.
Male mentor Jim Klosterman (photo, left) says he enjoys giving clients ideas and tools to use in raising their children. “Most of them are hungry for this knowledge they need to help them become good fathers. I also thoroughly enjoy building camaraderie with the clients while seeing and feeling their growing enjoyment and appreciation for the fatherhood experience.”
For male mentor Jeff Jehn (photo, right), growing up in a large family gives him a unique perspective. “Being one of nine children exposed me to the often hectic and sometimes even troublesome components of life,” he said. Raised by two wonderful parents and raising two children with his wife of 56 years also qualifies Jeff as a mentor. “I can share my experiences to benefit others and give back to my community in some commensurate portion to how I have been blessed in my life.”
Mentoring men in crisis can be difficult, but Jeff, Jim and Tom all agree their clients are worth the effort. While they can’t always know whether their work bears fruit, sometimes they do see or hear about the impact they’ve made. Tom said, “One young lady called to thank us. She and her boyfriend had been about to break up, but after going through just a third of the Fatherhood sessions to that point, her boyfriend had changed his behavior a lot towards her and in his acceptance of becoming a father.”
Jim added, “I remember a father whose partner was considering either an abortion or adoption. He fought for his rights as a father and did everything he could to assure his child was born and attain custody of his child. He was able to accomplish both.”
“Life is complicated—but it also is simple. Whether in church or in our sessions, our clients can learn to love their partners, love their children and love God. We help them learn to make good decisions. And while learning to lead a life of better decisions can’t guarantee a life without struggle, it can go a long way in raising children to be good adults. That, in the end, is our role,” Tom concludes.
Jeff adds, “I love what Care Net stands for. I can think of no message that is more important than the sanctity of all life at all stages from conception to natural death, and the Fatherhood program adds another critical stage to the whole picture.”
Interested in learning about becoming a male mentor? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Mary Goins.