One bad decision led to a short period of incarceration for Alfredo. When he was directed to BronxWorks for help, he made a very good decision: he agreed to be a voluntary participant in the Strong Fathers, Stronger Families program. Today, Alfredo simply stammers "wow" when asked what he’s learned from the program. Reflecting on where he is now compared to just a few months ago, he says, "I've changed a whole lot…it’s crazy." Alfredo says the program has given him new perspectives on relationships and a whole different way of interacting with others.
Not only has he gained skills to be a better dad, he has new life skills that he utilizes daily. He’s more patient with everyone, from his wife to strangers on the train, and his 72-year-old mother, who he loves to just hang out with now. Alfredo's new approach to an annoyance or challenge is to take a deep breath and not make a rash decision that can have a negative effect for the future, advice he is passing along to his children and peers.
One of the greatest influences on Alfredo was the peer support he found in the fatherhood program. After meeting together only for a couple of weeks, the dads in his group acted like they’d known each other for years, sharing stories and advice. "We didn't have to worry about anything but just being ourselves," Alfredo notes. He also credits the program’s impact to BronxWorks staff member Nneka Symister, marveling how much she really cared about and got to know the individual participants.
Alfredo is proud of his improving relationships with his children, saying they want to spend more time with him than ever before. With a wide smile, he reflects on their individual personalities, the goals they have for themselves, and their accomplishments, but one example stands out. His 16-year-old son regularly received such poor grades that he was required to attend summer school for three consecutive years. After his son’s mother passed away, he came to live with Alfredo last September. With patience and discipline, Alfredo helped his son improve his grades so much that he will not be attending summer school for the first time in three years. When his son announced this exciting news to Alfredo, he added, "Thanks to you, Dad." These are words every father dreams of hearing.
BronxWorks continues to support Alfredo as he concentrates on the final step of putting his life completely back on track: securing a job. Guided by a job developer, he spends hours every week filling out job applications. Now more comfortable offering emotional support for his family, Alfredo declares, "I'm a provider" and a job will enable him to provide basic financial support as well. But he is quick to point out that even full-time employment will not prevent him from continuing to spend precious time with his family. This is how Alfredo and BronxWorks are lifting lives and building futures.
The BronxWorks Workforce Development Department assists people that are unemployed, looking for their first job, or need help improving their careers. Services include: job skills and computer training, placement assistance, resume and interview preparation, ESL and basic education classes, budgeting and financial literacy, and benefits assistance. Please send questions or comments to email@example.com.
Alfredo was recently featured in an AM New York article about NYC dads who are engaged in fatherhood programs for low-income, noncustodial fathers. Read the full article here.
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