ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Participants who attended the second Fatherhood
Buzz, sponsored by the Department of Justice’s Paternity and Child Support
Division, have hailed the event a success.
for a number of years, the fatherhood training was resurrected three years ago
when Attorney General Claude Earl Walker assumed the position as the Virgin
Islands’ top prosecutor, under whose auspices falls the Paternity and Child
2015 when I took over as the AG,
it was brought to my attention that we had a problem with some fathers owing
large amounts of child support payments, so we decided that we have to do
something to get fathers to understand the importance of taking care of their
children spiritually, as well as financially,” AG Walker said during brief
remarks Tuesday afternoon at the Fatherhood Buzz closing ceremony held at the
St. Andrew’s Episcopal church’s recreational hall. “We were getting the complaints about some fathers
going into the nightclubs and the bars buying everybody a round, but not taking
care of their children and spending thousands of dollars on rims for vehicles,
but not taking care of their children.
That’s wrong…there’s something wrong with that picture,” he said.
Walker said the Department decided to tackle the problem by offering delinquent
fathers courses on fatherhood.
purpose was to provide a balance – on one hand, you have to take care of your children
financially, but on the other hand, society is providing a way, providing
courses to help us to be better parents…. One of the greatest experiences you
can have in this life is to have a good relationship with your children… If you
give your children love, as time goes by, they’ll give it back to you and
more. I have seen that… Children give
love back to you that you can’t put a price on, but it first starts with you,”
AG Walker said.
of Paternity and Child Support Division Charlotte Poole-Davis commended the 10
fathers for completing the six-week program aimed at helping them to become
are really pleased to have the participants of the Fatherhood Buzz program here
tonight for their closing program; they have reached a pinnacle and we’re proud
of them. We’re glad that they stepped up
and that they took the opportunity… they took a different approach and enrolled
in the class…” Director Poole-Davis said.
“It’s our goal and our objective to continue this program and to make
sure that we try to change the culture and not leave any child behind and make
sure that every child has the benefit of not only the mother, but also the
Francis, one of the fathers who attended the workshop, extoled the Department
of Justice and its Paternity and Child Support Division for implementing what
he described as a “very positive” program.
“We learnt a lot
and they taught us different avenues to help us…I wish the program were even
longer because it’s very positive. I’ve
learned a lot and I’m sure the other guys have learned a lot… now we get a
chance to tell our story and to show the public that it’s not all about child
support; it’s information that we need… The government is here for us and again,
I want to thank you guys for putting on this program and I look forward for
many other fathers to come and get this kind of information and relieve a lot
of the stress,” Francis said.
Finch, another father who participated in the pilot program held 2016, echoed
you first attend this program, you come in negative because everything else
outside the program seems to be attacking you negatively and you really didn’t
know what to expect. I can tell you that
by the third month we did this thing, as far as my personal experience, it had
nothing to do with child support, more so than it had to do with the support of
each other, ways to deal with our situation and the brotherhood that we
actually connected with… Programs like
these are important. I wish that it
would come more often than it is or as it has been… I appreciate it and I give
thanks,” Finch said.
facilitator, Carlton Stevens, also lauded the DOJ and child support division
for their vision in trying to stymie an issue that is facing the Virgin
loss is big; it has touched so many lives.
We know so many people that grew up without their fathers and we can
somehow see the effects that has caused on those particular individuals. If they don’t have that support around them,
it’s tough,” he said.
presenting a brief overview of the program, Stevens said the six weeks were
spent “soul searching, reviving, restoring, re-educating, renewing and
reconnecting these men to what they need to do.”
a lot of miseducation when it comes to males, about being fathers and about
being men… So what we did in those six weeks was try to help these men
understand their purpose by re-educating them as to what it is to be a man,
what their purpose is in life when it comes to being men and what value they
have in the lives of their children,” Stevens said. “So, we restored that and tried to re-connect
that with those lost times and hope that it just grows and renew their beliefs
in their faith and their families…. We had several successes during those six
weeks that we met, where men actually reconnected themselves with their
children and you saw the look, the joy, the happiness… the weight lifted off of
that man’s shoulders after re-connecting with his family,” Stevens said.
keynote speaker was Virgin Islands legendary boxer, Julian Jackson, who relived
his story of growing up without a father.
a young man growing up here in St. Thomas, I yearned for the backbone of my
father. I remember when I was in 6th
grade and I used to see my friends and their fathers dropping them off, giving
them a hug, giving them a kiss and I didn’t have a father and that used to
affect me,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know the effect it had on me until when I
was older because I was looking for attention, I was looking for somebody to be
there for me… I was searching for somebody and I ended up in a gang looking for
that fatherly love and I realize that that’s the case today where a lot of
young men and even our daughters are searching for somebody to speak to them …
My confidence, my self-esteem was so low because at that particular stage of my
life, I did not have a father and that affected my life. That caused me to go in myself, shut
everybody out and start to self-destruct…”
said it wasn’t until an older man came into his life that he changed for the
old man started teaching me principles that are grounded in the Word of God; he
believed in respect and in honor and those are the key values that are
affecting our young men and women. If
they don’t respect their father or mother, how are they going to respect
anybody else? That’s where it starts, in the home, in the family,” Jackson, the
father of eight, said.
of the fathers was awarded a Certificate of Participation. A similar fatherhood training session is
planned for St. Croix later this year.