Project Padres “Fathers Are Warriors”

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            (El Centro) – The deep boom of the drum marked the opening of Project Padres’ ”Fathers are Warriors” event Thursday evening at the Eagles Lodge in El Centro to kick start the program’s second year.

            An Aztec dancer moved to the drumbeats on stage in a display of power and culture.  Later, on the same stage, speakers from the classes and San Diego spoke to the audience about the importance of father’s in the lives of the family.  The event also included a dinner for the families as well as games, music, and giveaway prizes.

 

An Aztec warrior characterizes the Project Padre theme of “Fathers are Warriors”

            Project Padres is an organization created by the IVROP in an effort to help and empower fathers of all backgrounds within the valley.  Whether they are single, divorced, or just trying to become more in touch with their family, Project Padres helps them out.

            Mark Peres, a major recruiter, facilitator, and case manager described the program as something that assists fathers going through rough times.  Classes for the members cover aspects of responsible fatherhood to economic stability.  The program presently assists 200 fathers per year with members displaying proof that they are able to go through the classes before starting. 

            “We give them the tools,” said Peres, “It’s up to them to use them.”

            Tomas Luna, a father originally from Los Angeles started the program since May and finished in August.  However, he is still very involved with Project Padres, even gaining help from the program by learning how to apply for jobs a skill he previously lacked.

            “IVROP does a lot above and beyond,” said Luna, “Now that’s what I call customer service!  Hopefully it will spread like wildfire.”

            Project Padres has been in the valley for a year as part of two rewarded federal grants, Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Relationships.  Juan Campos, a project coordinator, stated that the Imperial Valley is one of only two counties in the entire nation to receive these two grants.  For three years the program will be funded by these grants to improve men’s lives and relationships with their families.

            Michael Conde, another father who a friend referred to the program, has not only been affected by Project Padres, but wants to continue the work started by the program.  In two years the grant will end, but Conde stated he would like to keep it alive.

            “There has never been a program strictly for dads before,” said Conde, “I feel it’s filled a void we’ve had in the valley.”

            “Ultimately it’s all about dads,” says Peres when asked about the program, “They want to better themselves as dads and husbands.”