Family Promise honors dads everywhere this Father’s Day. Whether it’s “like father, like son” or a daughter who’s “daddy’s little girl,” we’re celebrating fathers, like Kelly, and all they do for their families.
As with all fathers, Kelly’s life changed when he became a parent. But in Kelly’s case, his infant daughter Trudence inspired him to make a complete turnaround. Kelly was incarcerated when he first learned he had a daughter in foster care, and he decided to correct his path immediately to gain custody of her. Upon his release, he entered a sober living facility, however, the facility didn’t permit children. Kelly was referred to Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley (MT), where he began custody proceedings. Trudence was four months old when he met her for the first time, although he wasn’t eligible for full custody just yet.
“I didn’t know how to balance my life,” he recalls. “I needed help with my finances, finding a job, finding housing, everything. Family Promise helped me figure it all out.”
Family Promise helped Kelly find employment, budget finances, and manage his time. Before long, his daughter was with him five days a week. That’s when the realities of single parenting set in. Kelly had little knowledge of infant care. He says Family Promise helped him with everything from diapers to daycare.
“I needed childcare but had no idea what to look for. Family Promise came with me to see daycare centers and taught me what to look for,” he explains.
Kelly was ready to embark on a new life with his daughter, but he hadn’t rented a home in nearly a decade and lacked a reliable rental history or landlord referrals to support his rental applications. Family Promise helped him obtain housing through a relationship with a local income-based housing program.
Now settled, Kelly still looks to Family Promise for graduate support.
“They advise me on so much – managing money, paying off debt, parenting questions,” he says. “They’re a guide to my life.”
One thing he noted during his battle with homelessness was the lack of assistance available to single fathers. Kelly had encountered the same dilemma once as a child when he and his own father were in search of housing, and he was surprised to find things hadn’t changed.
“There’s in-patient treatment for single moms who are substance abusers. There are agencies that help moms find housing. But places turn away single dads. Until I found Family Promise, I couldn’t find anyone who helped single dads,” he says. “I’d like to see more organizations like Family Promise that are accepting of all different families.”
Kelly now volunteers with Family Promise and is a light at the end of the tunnel for families in the program, especially fathers.
Inspired by the changes he has made with the support of Family Promise, Kelly will begin college this year for a degree in construction management in hope of one day starting his own business. He’s also in line to become a first-time homeowner through Partners in Housing, Family Promise’s innovative program that offers families battling homelessness the opportunity to own their own homes.
Even with all those plans, Kelly says he won’t forget Family Promise.
“They’ll be in my life for a long time,” he remarks. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I want to show people this is possible.”