Father of the Year takes Talbert House project to heart

When Ronald Smith-Yisrael first enrolled in the Talbert House Fatherhood Project in May 2008, he was essentially homeless and trying to find food and shelter for his five children. This month, he'll be honored as Father of the Year and help lead a new celebration of nurturing and loving fathers at Sawyer Point June 19.

Smith-Yisrael had just obtained physical custody of his children when he started 10 weeks of free classes called Nurturing Fathers. Sessions cover everything from how to process unmet needs from your own childhood to fathering without violence or fear. There are lessons on playing and listening, on problem-solving and discipline.

"It offers support for fathers and it's open to anyone who wants to be a better dad," says Kathleen Rause, Talbert House's community relations specialist. "Some folks didn't have the best models."

Smith-Yisrael, a star student during his 10 weeks of classes, found permanent housing while part of the program. After graduating, he filed for, and was granted, full legal custody of his minor children in 2009. He still lives on a fixed income, but is now majoring in information technology in college.

"We are here, and we are making it," Smith-Yisrael says. He says he and his children rely on strong moral values, faith, and love to keep close. "My children are a blessing."

Smith-Yisrael will be part of Talbert House's first ever Fatherhood Celebration, a free family outing Sunday, June 19, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Do Good:

• Celebrate Fathers! This year, put a twist on Father's Day traditions by visiting the first ever Fatherhood Celebration at Sawyer Point, June 19.

• Make a donation to Talbert House.
• Make a new friend. On Facebook!

By Elissa Yancey
Photo courtesy of Talbert House

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