New center in Lexington dedicated to helping fathers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new center dedicated to fathers and families opened Friday in Lexington. Its purpose is to help guide fathers on their journey through parenthood. And although it isn’t a new initiative, it still means a lot to the community.

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It’s often said it takes a village to raise a child. That’s why the dedication of a new center for fathers and families in Lexington’s West End means so much to the community, especially to first-time father Vernell Douglas. He’s the dad of a six-month-old baby boy.

“I recently lost my father two years ago and I was looking for ways to cope with growing as an individual father now that I’ve become a father, and this groups it helps me, provides me with information I need,” Douglas said.

The Fatherhood Initiative holds parenting classes, one-on-one mentorship and more. It targets young men who might not have been exposed to the best parenting techniques and even those who just want to make sure they are doing things right.

The grand opening brought out faith leaders, activists and even Mayor Linda Gorton.

Director David Cozart said he started the work years ago after realizing many of the kids he worked with didn’t have their father in their home.

“Any negative life outcome that we don’t want happening to our children, father absence exacerbates that,” Cozart said

Michael Overstreet works with some children whose fathers are incarcerated. He said he sees the impact it has up close and he knows it can also be difficult for fathers to make the initial contact after years have gone by.

“It takes a holistic approach about the preventative way through one-on-one mentoring, but also in a way of intervention and helps along the father who might want to be there for his kids, but not quite know how,” Overstreet said.

Douglas says he knows it can be hard. He and his father rebuilt their bond before he passed, but they did it, and he said he knows all the dads out there can do it too.

“Don’t give up,” Douglas said. “Don’t be discouraged about misfortunes because every day is a challenge.”

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Bobbi McSwine joined the ABC 36 News Team in March 2020. She started as a Web Content Producer in November 2019. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, known to many as the “Windy City.” She studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. While in school, she had a number of internships ranging from Free Spirit Media, ABC 7 Chicago and Illinois Public Media. She fell in love with writing in high school and paired that with a newfound passion for storytelling in college. She misses her hometown, but she loves the horses and rich history in Lexington. When she’s not working, she’s probably listening to music or binge-watching Netflix. She’s always looking to get to know more people in Central Kentucky, so feel free to shoot her a message on Facebook @BobbiWTVQ, follow her on Twitter @McSwineB_News, or send her an email at bmcswine@wtvq.com.