Fathers coalition hosts 1st 'fun day' for children, parents

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The Midlands Fatherhood Coalition had its First Annual Family Day on Saturday at South HOPE Center, 1124 S. Lafayette Drive.

A grill was set up to cook hot dogs and hamburgers, and children could play games, visit a game truck or watch victims get soaked in a dunking booth.

Keith Ivey, director of the group's activities in Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties, said the event was not only meant to be family oriented and fun, but to also help introduce clients to some of the agencies that can provide services to them.

The coalition offers education and services tailored for fathers trying to rebuild their lives and their families, according to www.scfathersandfamilies.com.

"We are devoted to helping men heal broken spirits and family relations, practice healthy parenting and gain productive, stable employment," according to the website. "We know that when fathers succeed in their fathering role, their children thrive."

On Saturday, tables were set up with information about such groups as the YWCA, Wateree Community Action Agency, Girl Scouts and the Diamonds Teen Pregnancy Program.

Cleo McDonald Amiker said the coalition has been a good partner with the YWCA.

"We do quite a bit of work with them and assist them with issues such as domestic violence," she said.

Amiker said domestic violence is a bad problem in Sumter, and the coalition has reached out to deal with some of the problems.

"They are one of the few groups who are actually addressing domestic violence concerns," she said. "They are very passionate about it, and that is a big success."

Rendale Samuel, a family service worker at Wateree Community Action Head Start, said the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition has been very helpful to them.

"We meet with fathers, and we have the coalition come in and do workshops and seminars," he said.

Keynote speaker Kelly Simmons III told attendees about becoming empowered as fathers and learning to take responsibility.

"God gave you a child; you have a responsibility for that child," he said.

He said it is a good thing for fathers to reach out to organizations such as Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.

"They can give you the power," Simmons said. "If you are knocked back down, you can get back up."

For more information on the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, call (803) 774-2140 or attend one of the coalition's weekly group sessions at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays at 687 N. Guignard Drive.