JOPLIN, Mo. — Nine men, all with a similar past, have two things in common — they’re working on bettering themselves… And they’re all fathers.

They make up about a third of recent graduates from a program designed to help dads strengthen bonds with their kids. We learn more about the “Good Dads” program:

Twenty four men are walking to “Pomp and Circumstance” in celebration of a special kind of graduation.

“I went from homeless and hopeless to a job that I love with a roof over my head and more cars than I can drive at once,” said Randy Potts,

They’re recent graduates of a program called “Good Dads” — and nine of them took the class through the alliance of Southwest Missouri in Joplin.

“A lot of the guys I’ll tell you when I first come in here, you know, they they have certain attitudes about things. And then, you know, we do our best to share our experiences. And then a lot of guys over the course of the 18 months they give in and program start to change their mind about a lot of a lot of issues with their children,” said Michael Weist, Good Dad Facilitator.

It’s open to any father from any background or family situation. But, men enrolled in the program typically have been separated from their children due to drugs, incarceration, or custody disputes.

Participants attend healthy relationship and fatherhood development courses, they obtain consistent employment, and they fulfill court-ordered child support payments.

“We figured out that in 2022, last year, we had impacted 385 children just in that year alone. But, also, we’re impacting communities where these dads live, so we like to say, we’re helping kids and communities one dad at a time,” said Dr. Jennifer Baker, Good Dads Executive Director & Founder.

“He’s changed his mood, his anger. He’s learned skills throughout all of it. And, coming home and describing those. It’s been great. It’s been a true blessing,” said Bayleigh Masterson.

Those involved in the program both inside and out, call it a ‘game changer’ and a ‘life saver.’

“Be open minded and try it. You never know. You might find something about the program that you really like,” said Mike.

“It’s just changed my life by proxy. It changed my life, which changed my wife’s life. Because, I mean, you don’t just learn something and then not use it. So I would go home from the class and talk to my wife, feeling, oh, check this out. So by proxy, it’s the ripple effect because you change one person’s mindset, one person’s way of thinking, one person’s life, and they change another,” said Potts.

Alliance staff say seeing the dads reunited with their kids is overwhelmingly heartwarming.
And, as the program grows, the Alliance is seeking donors to help feed participants going through the classes.

Giving Tuesday coming up later this month would be a perfect opportunity to make that donation. It’s November 28th and you can find more information here.