A $35,000 grant from the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation has helped Man 2 Man Fatherhood Initiative put fathers to work in the Pee Dee Region in rural eastern South Carolina over the last year. The Foundation’s funding supports the fatherhood program’s Employability Bootcamp, which provides skills assessment, education and training for fathers to gain employment or advance to higher-wage careers.

The grant also partially funds transportation assistance for program participants who need assistance getting to and from the program.

“At Perdue, we are committed to partnerships that help improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work,” said Kim Nechay, executive director of the Perdue Foundation. “We’re thrilled our support is helping fathers be a positive and consistent presence in their children’s lives and building stronger families.”

Man 2 Man’s employment development model combines an initial skills assessment, a 20-hour bootcamp focusing on improving soft skill development, and a six-week economic stability curriculum focusing on personal money management. Last year, this three-pronged approach helped more than 200 men gain part-time or full-time employment.

Larry Burroughs, a resident of Florence, South Carolina, and father of two girls ages 9 and 11, was unemployed and struggling to make his child support payments. A family court judge suggested Burroughs take advantage of the fatherhood program at Man 2 Man for the help he needed to get his life back on track.

“I had never heard of Man 2 Man, but when I got there, it was a professional, positive and supportive place,” said Burroughs. “They made me feel like they understood me and encouraged me to set my goals and told me they could help me get there if I applied myself and stayed positive.”

Burroughs did apply himself by attending all employment program sessions, taking an active role in weekly group discussions and maintaining a focus on his goals. The staff at Man 2 Man took note of his determination and, after graduating in May 2019, he was chosen as a candidate for tuition-paid training to become a licensed forklift operator through an educational partnership Man 2 Man has developed with Florence-Darlington Technical College.

After completion of the class, Man 2 Man helped Burroughs prepare to interview for a job with the Building and Grounds Department of Florence School District 1. Burroughs was hired and is now waiting for a forklift driver position to open within the system.

“You have to start somewhere but having training and a license to operate a forklift will move my name up on the list of candidates when an opening comes up,” said Burroughs.

In addition to steady employment with benefits and a retirement plan, he also has a new career path. Payroll deductions for child support payments mean he doesn’t have to worry about getting behind again.

“Man 2 Man gives you the vehicle to get to where you need to be. And, they made me feel I could do whatever I wanted to do,” said Burroughs. “Even if you don’t have financial problems but just want to learn how to be a good father, I’d say Man 2 Man is the place to go.”

Man 2 Man Fatherhood Initiative serves fathers and families in Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence and Marlboro counties and is part of a statewide network of fatherhood organizations guided by the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families (SCCFF), a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. Last year, 684 program participants completed job readiness training across the state with 70 percent gaining employment upon completion.

Since 2002, SCCFF has helped more than 18,000 fathers prepare to meet the material, emotional and spiritual needs of their children. 

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. Its mission is based on the conviction that children thrive when an engaged, responsible father is active in their lives. In South Carolina, many children live in a father-absent home, and the consequences are dire. To address this problem, The Center supports 6 fatherhood organizations providing services to every county of the state while promoting father-friendly policies and practices and helping to erase society’s negative stereotypes of non-custodial, low-income dads.