(Includes excerpts taken from the Office of the Mayor's official press release, available online. All photos courtesy of John Dalton.)
To learn more about the Fortune Society click HERE
On Thursday, June 17th , The Fortune Society was honored to host Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for a press conference during which he announced the launch of a citywide fatherhood initiative to strengthen New York City families by helping fathers be active in their children’s lives.
The initiative includes more than a dozen programs that range from parenting classes offered at public hospitals and homeless shelters to educational activities for dads and their children at Housing Authority community centers. To oversee the effort, the City will hire its first-ever Citywide Fatherhood Services Coordinator.
The Mayor was joined at the announcement at The Fortune Society by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, actor Malik Yoba, New York City Housing Authority Chairman John B. Rhea, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar, Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav, President and CEO of the Fortune Society, JoAnne Page, and former Fortune Society client Francisco Gonzalez.
“Under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, the City’s new Fatherhood Initiative will give men – many who grew up without fathers – a real chance to do better for their children,” said Fortune Society President and CEO JoAnne Page.
“At The Fortune Society, we work with formerly incarcerated men and those who come to us as an alternative to incarceration. Overwhelmingly, these men want to be there for their own children because they know what it's like to grow up without fathers as positive presences in their lives. Fortune provides the necessary skills, knowledge and support, to help them become responsible parents and avoid repeating the behaviors of their own fathers. Working together, the City and The Fortune Society can help these individuals learn the practical and emotional skills they need to be there for their children and support their families emotionally and financially.”
Prior to the conference, Mayor Bloomberg took a moment to join Betty Wilson’s Cooking and Nutrition Class for fathers, one of Fortune’s many Family Services offerings. “Miss Betty”, as she’s known by her students, helps formerly incarcerated men learn about basic diet and nutrition – often for the very first time.
We are so glad that Mayor Bloomberg had a chance to participate in this unique course for fathers, which has become a family tradition at Fortune over the past several years – Miss Betty even showed the Mayor how to cut zucchini!
Former Fortune client Francisco Gonzalez (seen above, speaking to Mayor Bloomberg) personally understands the critical need for services that support New York City fathers to become better parents and role models for their children.
“When I came to The Fortune Society three and a half years ago, I was not a man who my daughters could proudly call, ‘dad’,” said Francisco at the conference today.
“Thanks to The Fortune Society, I now understand what it takes to be a positive role model in my children’s lives. Today, I am a changed man – the kind of father who my daughters can yell from the rooftops, ‘that’s my dad.’ They’re proud to resemble me and I owe it all to The Fortune Society who believed in me and my capabilities to be a loving, loyal father.”
Mayor Bloomberg’s press conference announcing the new fatherhood initiative was featured on New York 1 Nightly News, as well as several other local news stations. It was also featured on the New York Times City Room blog, homepage of Mayor Bloomberg's official website, the New York Post, BlackRadioNetwork.com (Minority News), USA Confidential, the Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog, and several other New York news sources!