Coalition offers hand up to dads

Sumter-based agency serves 4-county region

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 6/23/19

Separation and divorce are awful things for most, and when kids are thrown in the middle of the situation, it can doubly worse.

But Sumterites Ryan Adkins and Jonathan Wilson are living examples that good can come out of bad with a little hard …

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Coalition offers hand up to dads

Sumter-based agency serves 4-county region

Posted

Separation and divorce are awful things for most, and when kids are thrown in the middle of the situation, it can doubly worse.

But Sumterites Ryan Adkins and Jonathan Wilson are living examples that good can come out of bad with a little hard work.

Both are single fathers who have received assistance from Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, a nonprofit, state group that seeks to reunite fathers with their families, and each spoke recently about his experiences and gratitude for the agency.

Adkins separated from his wife earlier this year and recently received custody of his 8-month-old daughter, Lily, in part because of the coalition.

Adkins said he wanted custody of his daughter, and South Carolina Department of Social Services referred him to the fatherhood group for some parenting classes.

After the coursework, DSS cleared him for custody, and he has had Lily now for close to two months.

The coalition, with a branch office at 687 N. Guignard Drive, has also helped Adkins with clothes and supplies, including a new crib for Lily.

Wilson is also a single father and shares custody of his two sons, Jonathan and Joshua, with their mom. He's also received various forms of assistance from the coalition - a free industrial training course at Central Carolina Technical College, help with budgeting, a discounted lawyer - to help guide him.

"This is a very good avenue for fathers dealing with different situations in their lives," Wilson said. "We are all at different phases in our lives, but the coalition can help guide you in the right direction."

Coalition Site Director Terrence Whitfield said the Sumter-based agency currently works with about 80 fathers and also serves neighboring counties, Clarendon, Lee and Kershaw.

Whitfield said the coalition's ultimate goal is to help fathers know the importance of being a father. He said that can be hard to know, if a man didn't have one growing up.

Seeing fathers' progress in the program is rewarding, Whitfield said.

"We provide them with opportunities and let them know, 'Hey, you're not the first person in this position and you won't be the last; so, let's start working toward what you want to do.'

"And, once they do one little thing, it boosts their ego: 'Now, I can do this. Now, I can do that. Now, I'm seeing my kids and the impact I can have on my kids."