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Fatherhood — a lifetime engagement

I was in church on Sunday (a miracle), thinking about my birthday this month.

In addition to fantasizing about eating eggs Benedict, a cinnamon roll, a birthday cake, and a 9x13 pan of spinach lasagna on the big day, I contemplated my birth and subsequent adoption.

My dad tells the same story every year, about how a social worker brought me to their house on a stormy Midwestern night as he and my mom were leaving to go bowling. How I was the most beautiful, beloved and chosen baby in the whole world. How the adoption process cost more than a Cadillac.

“Jodi,” said John Lopez from the pew behind me, as he gently tapped my shoulder, “Let me tell you about the Archuleta County Fatherhood Initiative. It is really exciting.” I stopped thinking about my dad’s dream car and listened.

Since 2006, our Department of Human Services (Social Services) has been collaborating with Archuleta County Victims Assistance, Archuleta County Education Center, the Community United Methodist Church, attorney Jerry Venn, local businesses that provide fathers with employment and learning experiences, and nonprofits that teach the All My Money workshops and provide mentoring. Together they have been working to improve father/child relationships by helping fathers obtain jobs and increase their income.

Of the 72 fathers involved in the Fatherhood Initiative in the last year, 18 improved their job search skills, 31 improved their financial planning skills, 23 secured training in different job skills, 10 improved their ability to keep a job and 29 increased their earning from the prior six months. The program primarily focuses on building financial skills, job search skills and mentoring opportunities. Legal workshops addressing child support and parenting time issues are offered bi-monthly.

At lunch on Tuesday, I asked my people what they thought was the most important element of their own fathering and/or what was the most important lesson their fathers taught them. I imagined a Leave it to Beaver world, back in the day, where families were the center of the universe, television was limited and dessert came at the end of every meal.

The inquiry itself caused tables to grow quiet, the questioned melancholy.

More than thrice I heard, “That’s a serious question.”

I listened to stories of beatings, absent fathers, and abject poverty. I heard stories of personal sacrifice, oil changes and fishing. I heard of fathers’ lessons rejected or accepted. I asked who taught them to be fathers and they answered, “Nobody” or “My dad.” I thought the current generation of young fathers had it tough.

My dad dines at the Dog Pound table where the men are over 80 and the women who join them are brave. Their answers to “What makes a good father?” were representative of the room.

Tom Brown, 92, answered, “Getting up at 2 a.m. to change diapers. Doing whatever it takes.”

Wild Dave Jeffries said, “Spanking.”

One father thought encouraging children to join the military for discipline and education was valuable, as was setting a good example.

“Pick a good wife,” said another.

My dad the rebel grinned and said, “Did I tell you I stayed out too late and got locked out of Pine Ridge the other night?”

They all agreed that providing a living for their own families was the best thing they did.

I attended a party at the top of Pagosa Springs and explained the success of the Fatherhood Initiative to fellow guests. Elmer Schettler sincerely commented, “Maybe I could learn how to be a better father.” His daughter Renee is 38 years old, a successful and well known food writer/editor residing in New York City. He introduced her to Gourmet magazine when she was 5. Being a good father, Elmer concludes, is a lifetime engagement.

Sometimes good fathers set down their bowling balls and give up their dream cars. Sometimes they wonder how to be a better father even when their children are grown. Sometimes it is all they can do to put food on the table and a roof over their children’s head and sometimes they make serious mistakes. Always the smart ones ask for help when they need it.

Call John Vick at the Department of Human Services at 264-2182 with questions about the Fatherhood Initiative, for help, or if you want to volunteer to be a mentor to a young father.

Gift making

We are hosting several crafty classes in preparation for the upcoming holidays. Here is what we have going in November.

Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 12:45 p.m. Kim Vernon will present “Thrifty Holiday Ideas,” a hands-on class with takeaway results. Sign up required, 15 person limit

Monday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m. Lake McCullough from Earth Sense Herbals will show us how to force bulbs in time for the holidays. Sign up required, 15 person limit

U-Way certificates

Once again the United Way of Southwest Colorado is offering $25 Dining Certificates.

They work like this. Purchase a Dining Certificate from our office. Take it to a participating business. The participating business gives $5 to the United Way to fund programs in Pagosa Springs, including ours. Why not eat out and have $5 donated at the same time?

Participating businesses are the Alley House Grille, Bacci Italian Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon and Grill, Boss Hogg’s Restaurant and Saloon, Buffalo Inn Restaurant and Bar, Cafe Colorado, Chimney Rock Restaurant and Tavern, DJ’s Italian Grill, Dogwood Cafe, Elkhorn Cafe, Farrago Market Cafe, Higher Grounds Coffee Company, JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant and Pub, Kip’s Grill and Cantina, Nello’s Bistro, Ole Miner’s Steakhouse, Pablo’s Diner, Pagosa Baking Company, Pagosa Brewing Company, Plaza Grille, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, Shang Hai Chinese Restaurant, The Rose Restaurant and Victoria’s Cafe, Saloon and Grill.

These certificates make great holiday gifts. Stop by our office and purchase some. Questions? Call me, Jodi, at 264-2167.

Transportation

With the closing of the downtown City Market, we remind you that we have a Senior Bus that runs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please call me, Jodi, at 264-2167 for details.

Services

Are you homebound or know someone who is? Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the more rurally isolated areas of the county and would like to help you help yourself.

These meals are the same meals prepared in our kitchen by the same cooks who prepare those scrumptious Senior Center meals. Our hot meal home-delivered program remains available to those closer to town four days per week, and frozen meals on Thursdays. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give me or Musetta a call at 264-2167 for further information.

Activities at The Den

Friday, Nov. 12 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m; ASI board meeting 1 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 15 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m; Tessa Michaelson “Readers Digesting” 12:45 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 16 — Yoga 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 17 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; Kim Vernon “Thrifty Christmas Ideas” 12:45 p.m.; Sky Ute Casino 1 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 18 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 19 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; book club 10:30 a.m.; Tai Chi 11 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m; Birthday lunch.

This week’s menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m., with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 12 — Talapia fish with mushroom sauce, cucumber salad, peas, pears, whole wheat roll.

Monday, Nov. 15 — Spaghetti with meatballs, green beans, salad, breadstick.

Tuesday, Nov. 16 — Smothered chicken, cornbread stuffing, seasoned cauliflower, applesauce, Waldorf dessert, whole wheat roll.

Wednesday, Nov. 17 — Meatloaf with tomato sauce topping, baked potato, lima beans with pimento, pineapple, whole wheat roll.

Thursday, Nov. 18 — Closed.

Friday, Nov. 19 — Greek spaghetti with stewed chicken, spinach, karidopita, birthday cake.