WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Any man can be a dad, but it takes someone special to be a father. The influence a father has on his children is like no other, that's why the New Hanover County Partnership for Fatherhood is focused on helping fathers be the best they can be, so their children can be the best, too.
"Fathers are strong. Fathers are courageous. Fathers are lions,” said Partnership for Fatherhood founder and New Hanover County DSS Director LaVaughn Nesmith. “Fathers are leaders. Fathers are strength. You need that, children, girls and boys, need to be identified with the characteristic of a father."
The partnership is a group of community agencies all focused on working together to make sure more children grow up with a responsible, loving father.
"We know that absent parents have a horrible impact on their children,” said New Hanover County Chief District Court Judge Jay Corpening. “We know that kids who have absent parents are more likely to be in poverty, more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs, more likely to turn to gangs, more likely to be less successful. We know that."
Corpening believes fathers are the foundation of a home, and a home without a foundation is not a safe place to be. Fathers from all over southeastern North Carolina came to the sixth annual partnership event.
"I just hope and pray that I'm being an impact in their lives, whether I don't get to see them as much because they are on their own and have their own families,” father Clark Lane said. “Still, I have to be an impact, a show and tell impact."
Lane said although his children are grown, he knows a father's job is never finished. Corpening said fathers can and should still show and tell the right things even after a divorce or separation.
"They need to be guiding children, working with the moms, whether they are living together or not,” Corpening said. “They need to be partners raising children."
The topic of this year's conference was communication, something Nesmith says is crucial not only to individual families but to our whole society.
"If we don't do something about addressing the issue, then we are going to continue to see children lost,” Nesmith said.
Nesmith said fathers give families their identities, and children who grow up not knowing who they are will raise children who fall into the same cycle. But he said there's a solution: dads who live up to the role they were meant to play.
Nesmith founded our local partnership after he went to a fatherhood conference in Atlanta many years ago. He believes many of the world's problems stem from the absence of fathers.