Before joining the HopeWorks team, Antonio Owens was like many of our students. After being accepted, then rejected, by the Air Force in high school, he became angry and started using and selling drugs. He was incarcerated approximately 30 times before hitting his ultimate low point when his mother died of breast cancer in 2001. Luckily for Antonio, his children and their mother attended a church where HopeWorks held classes, and they brought him a brochure about the program. He was headed down a path toward absentee fatherhood, but Antonio says when the people at HopeWorks cared about him and showed interest in his life, things started to change. He made new friends who encouraged him, while also receiving counseling and taking GED classes.
Before coming to HopeWorks, Antonio felt depressed because he didn’t feel he was a good father. However, after starting the Professional and Career Development program, all of that began to change. He was encouraged by the newfound respect his children had for him because of the positive changes he was making in his life. Antonio graduated from HopeWorks in 2002 and began working for the organization in 2003 as an instructor in the PCD program. He went on to earn an associate’s degree in applied science in social work.
“I am committed to being a good father,” Antonio said. “In 2009, I reunited with a daughter I previously neglected. I want to be a father and not just a ‘baby daddy.’ I have a savings account and have been paying my child support regularly for eight years. I have been free from drugs since 2002. Finding a purpose in my life has motivated me to stay clean.”
Antonio’s restored relationship with his children is undeniably impactful, especially when you look at the following statistics on children in fatherless homes:
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
- 85% of all children who show behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
- 70% of youth in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes.
- 85% of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes.
- 71% of pregnant teenagers come from a fatherless home.
- Children from a fatherless home are 68% more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs compared to children in two-parent homes.
- Children living in single-parent homes with their mother have a poverty rate of 47.6%. This is four times the rate of their counterparts in two-parent homes.
For 28 years, HopeWorks has worked toward a goal of removing barriers to employment, like criminal records or a lack of education. Raising a child is difficult, but along with helping individuals get jobs, we help our students grow as individuals and strengthen their personal relationships. If the idea of learning, growing and strengthening your family ties appeals to you this Father’s Day, check out our Personal and Career Development and Adult Education Programs.
(statistics found at https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/ and http://fatherhoodfactor.com/us-fatherless-statistics/ )