Denverite Dr. Nathan O’Neal was bestowed with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. The award is given to individuals who have provided 2,500 or more service hours to the community during their lifetime. O’Neal was honored for his admirable work in helping fathers connect with their children thanks to his work with the Men Behaving Dadly program housed at Denver Human Services (DHS). Men Behaving Dadly empowers fathers to become more involved in their children’s life by educating them about the court systems, child support, parenting techniques and additional support services.
“[I’m] thankful and humbled… I believe that we must increase our efforts to ensure fathers are included in the process of parenting,” O’Neal said.
“The initial inspiration [for the program, created in 1997] was based on the number of fathers not available to their children in the community where our church is located,” stated O’Neal, who serves as Sr. Pastor of Light Of The World Church and is a program administrator at Denver Human Services.
While working at the church, he discovered there were limited programs to help estranged fathers get reconnected and reengaged in the lives of their children.
O’Neal’s program was brought to Denver Human Services in 2008. According to O’Neal, the program has worked with over 700 fathers and families to provide free access to classes and workshops. Those services include group therapy, father support groups and co-parenting education that teach skills to bring fathers closer to their children and families.
“If it wasn’t for Nathan’s program I would have been lost in the whole situation,” remarked Roger Tejada, a father that benefited from Nathan’s work.
“Nathan’s work in the community and with Denver Human Services has made a world of difference for our families.” He is a great role model for showing dads what it takes to be there for their kids,” Allen Pollack, Director of Protection and Prevention at Denver Human Services said. Because of his work, many kids have their dad’s involved in their lives.
For more information, please visit www.menbehavingdadly.org.