EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: The Father’s Father Figures

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We all know the story line of the ‘dead beat dad’. It’s unfortunate. One option is to lock the person up for not paying child support. Another option is what Sylvester Ballard and Larry Mays are doing. They are father’s father figures, and our Extraordinary People of the Week.

*DISCLAIMER:  This story focuses on a NHC program that centers around fathers and getting them back on track.  It is not the intent to imply that mothers do not fail to pay their court ordered child support, too.  Again, it is about the Fatherhood Family Support Program.  Thank you, and kudos to the success of this mission!

“The father plays, he’s an important piece of the puzzle” Slyvester Ballard said. “A lot of times that piece of the puzzle is missing in a childs life and we’re there to try and put that puzzle back together.”

Sylvester Ballard and Larry Mays, at New Hanover County’s Department of Social Services, could be called father’s father figures.

“It’s really rewarding because a lot of times we’re the only encouragement they may get,” Ballard said. “They feel like they are being beat down by the system. We encourage them, let them know how important it is for them to do what they are supposed to do.”

What they are supposed to do when a father can’t, or rarely gets to, see his kids.

“We find that fathers that are more involved in the lives of their children are more prone to pay child support,” May said, “and be a healthy resource for the child.”

So they find ways to get the dads back on track. “We help them find employment,” Ballard said. “We go out in the field and talk to employees and hopefully get them an opportunity, an interview, anything to help get their foot in the door.”

They help build a parent-child relationship. Check out this statisitic from the program: Participants enrolled in the Family Support Program for 6 months increased their payments 308%.
The most recent numbers also found that 51% of the fathers enrolled in the program secured employment.

“Quite often,” Mays said, “when people come in contact with government agencies, be it child support, DSS, or whatever, there is a feeling of apprehension and if you can help relieve them of that apprehension, and they know that ‘hey, maybe I can get through this’, then I go to bed at night with a feeling of ahhhh, I made a difference.”

And when you are making that kind of difference, Larry and Sylvester, it is Extraordinary!

There is a special event coming up to celebrate the success of the Family Support Program.
Saturday, March 12, from 8:30am to 3 pm, NHC Partnership for Fatherhood will host its 10th Annual Fatherhood Conference in Wilmington, NC, at the First Baptist Activity Center located at 1939 Independence Blvd., Wilmington NC 28403.

Photo: Event Flyer

Photo: Event Flyer

Alimi Ballard, an American television actor and a strong advocate of the Fatherhood Family Support Program, will provide the keynote address at the conference.  There is also a meet and greet Friday, March 11th, at 6:30pm in the center court of Independence Mall.
For more information on the Fatherhood Family Support Program, contact the New Hanover County DSS.

Categories: Community, Extraordinary People Next Door, Features, Local, New Hanover

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