“Why are we nominating Craig Pozner? Because … he amplifies the adjective AWESOME. What has he done? Craig is a dad who is true, genuine and a champion for children’s causes by seeking the most gifted service providers for children under his care. Where has he been? Advocating and educating families and professionals about the importance of a parent’s voice. He teaches families to be the ultimate reporter concerning the direction in which they want their child’s IFSP, Transition conference and IEP meetings to go. What does he know? He has experienced and walked in Early Steps families’ moccasins in seeking early intervention services for his child as well as other children in Miami-Dade County…Thoughtful attention was automatically instilled when his son Samuel was born needing early intervention services. His work consists of doing incredible acts of big-heartedness. . .We are your cheering section, Craig. Thank you for being YOU!” Elma Pierre, Jessidra Coleman & Cristina Azor, Miami Children’s Hospital Southernmost Coast Early Steps.
“Eddie Parker is faithful to attend BRIDGES activities with his 6-year-old daughter Ed’keria. He has been a member of the BRIDGES program since June 2012. BRIDGES is a parent resource education center that is based in the community. Despite working full time, he attends as many activities as he can. When community activities were scheduled earlier in the afternoon, he requested that they be moved to a later time so he and other working parents could attend. Other parents in the BRIDGES program have even commented on how active Mr. Parker is at attending events and activities and supporting his daughter. Mr. Parker recently completed a 6 week session called the Positive Parenting Program or Triple P. The sessions teach simple tips to parents to help manage big and small problems of family life. Mr. Parker is a great dad because he is always present in his daughter’s life.” Nina G. Wills, Outreach Coordinator, Bridges at Pahokee.
Christopher Milne, the custodial parent of a 19-month old daughter and 9-month old son, “is an inspiration to me as a Parent Educator that a father can keep his family together with hard work and dedication. This dad has faced many obstacles along the way but he has put his children’s welfare above his needs to keep his family intact.” Angela Pineda, Parent Educator, PAT+ Pinellas County.
“James Nelus has shown himself to be a wonderful father to his 11-month old son. His girlfriend enrolled in the Nurse Family Partnership program early in her pregnancy and had a very difficult time with nausea, vomiting and dehydration. James was at every home visit, assisting and nurturing her as well as actively participating in the visits and asking intelligent and well thought out questions. He was very interested in learning about the pregnancy and also attended childbirth classes with her.
After their son Kingston was born, he continued to be very supporting, encouraging his girlfriend to continue breastfeeding, helping her in their son’s daily care including diapering, dressing and feeding as well as going to all his pediatric visits and when possible, participating in the home visits. I have watched them grow as a family, as well as a couple and he has always shown commitment to their relationship and baby, he is there for them physically, mentally and emotionally. He exhibits great common sense and humor as well in parenting. He works the evening shift, so that he can be with his son during the day, while my client is in college and now that she is working during the day. He plans special times together for them, recently a fancy dinner out for his girlfriend’s 21st birthday. James really enjoys playing with Kingston. They are very active in their play and at our recent visit, chased each other around the living room with Kingston’s new walking/running skills. He is gentle and affectionate with his son, encouraging him and has age appropriate expectations. James suffers from asthma since he was a child and has concerns that their son may get it as well. He knows all the preventative measures and they keep a clean home, continued breastfeeding and timely well baby care. Both my client and James read books to Kingston and recently, they assisted me in a slide show presentation for the Literacy Council by letting me photograph them reading to their son. These are some of the many reasons I nominate James Nelus for this recognition.” Denise DeFazio, RNS, Nurse Home Visitor, NFP-Palm Beach.
“Phil Montero is a wonderful man and father! Phil is a full time Dad taking care of his two young boys (Spencer age 7 and Joshua age 2 and a half). It is obvious to anyone who knows Phil; he loves his family more than anything in the world. His youngest, Joshua, was born with Down syndrome and Phil has taken the responsibility of helping Joshua very seriously. Phil attends all meetings related to Joshua, speaks with all of the therapists and Dr.’s regarding Joshua’s care and diligently fights the fight that will ensure Joshua receives the best care possible. Phil approaches any of the challenges surrounding Joshua’s care with determination and perseverance. Phil’s is committed to being the best role model that he can be. He has taken classes on becoming a better parent, is connected with many parenting social media outlets and local organizations that support parenting in general and parenting a child with disabilities. He volunteers his time assisting organizations that help children with disabilities in hopes that they remain viable for anyone else that might need the same assistance his family has received.
“Phil truly believes in his sons and what they can become and accomplish. He continually opens their world up to many wonderful experiences. He relates to his children on their level. He can play with them like no other yet also have a heart to heart discussion on whatever situation is bothering them that day. But most importantly, Phil wants to teach his son’s that there are an unlimited amount of situations in life both good and bad, but if you stay positive, always look for the good and you don’t give up, you can turn any of those bad things into something better.
“I’m not sure Phil would say this because he is too humble but his family knows how much he has influenced their lives. Phil has immeasurably affected the path that they are all on because of the choices he has made and commitment he dedicates to his family (not to mention his wonderful sense of humor). He has never wavered in his love and devotion no matter what obstacles have been thrown his way and his family has lived that. They know that he will be there for them no matter what comes their way. Now that, is something to be proud of!” Natalie Eno, Family Resource Specialist, Easter Seals-Treasure Coast Early Steps.
“Hector Figueroa’s story begins in Honduras where he learns his partner is pregnant while fleeing from a situation of extreme violence that does not allow them to start a life together as a family. Desperate to protect his family, he decided to migrate to the United States with his family and look for asylum. During his long journey, he protected his partner who was in a wheelchair due to a chronic crippling disease that affected her at an early age. Arriving in U.S. territory, he immediately reached out for help thinking about the safety and welfare of his pregnant partner. Hector tries to provide food, shelter and safety for his family in spite of the many difficulties and obstacles. He proves his love and duty as a father every day by attending to his partner and daughter with normal daily tasks like bathing both of them, cooking, cleaning, doing shopping, etc. but what it special is that each day he does it without excuses, without protest and with infinite patience.
“His daughter, who was born prematurely, recognizes her father’s voice and gets excited when he arrives home, all thanks to the time and dedication Hector invests everyday with her. He demonstrates that he does not know the word impossible when it comes to his family. It is my honor to have an opportunity to meet such a special father.” Monica Arango, Registered Nurse Specialist, Healthy Beginnings, Palm Beach.
“Joshua Self is the father of a precious little boy. He and his wife Crystal are expecting again in the winter. Joshua was raised by an abusive step-father and his mother. His biological father was absent until Joshua was about 14. To say he had a lot to overcome is an understatement. When he found out he and his then girlfriend were expecting, he said he knew he had to “get his life right” and learn all he could about raising his child in a nurturing and loving environment. He wanted to give his son all he never had. Joshua actively participates in the home visits even though he works 60+ hours a week at times. He is also the one who gets up with his son at night because “his Mom has him all day.” Joshua is a kind, loving, selfless, and caring father. He works hard every day to overcome a lifetime of hardships. He always puts his wife and son ahead of his own wants and needs. He is so deserving of honor. As his Family Support Worker I am so amazed by his ability to care for his family after enduring a horrific childhood and coping with many challenges as a result! He was thrilled and humbled just knowing he was nominated!” Jennifer Fowler, Family Support Worker, Healthy Families Bay.
“James Whitfield is married to Shevonna and has 4 children. He has been a member of the BRIDGES Program since October 2012. Mr. Whitfield said the most important thing for his children to know and understand is that there are consequences to any action or decision. He believes that children are a reflection of their parents. He wants his children to understand how important doing the right thing is even when it is not easy or popular. Mr. Whitfield is a great role model not only to his children but also to other children in the community.” Nina G. Wills, Outreach Coordinator, Bridges at Pahokee.
“There are many fathers that do not properly fulfill their roles in their children’s lives. It can be heartbreaking to look at all the fatherless children that I come into contact withon a daily basis. However, there are days when I get to meet with families that have a father that is involved and trying his best to be there for his children. One family in particular has a father that I believe deserves to be recognized due to his outstanding efforts and the care he continually takes to be involved in his children’s lives. Michael Dawson, is the father of five. His youngest is 1 year old and she has him wrapped around her little finger. Michael will be the first to tell you that being a father is not easy and I will go a step further and say that it is especially difficult for a father to fulfill his role when his own father did not do so. There are lots of things a picture won’t tell you about a person and this is especially true for Michael. He was in foster care from age 3 until age 15; and to give you an idea about what his parents were focused on, he (age 3) and his siblings were left with a neighbor during a drug raid on his parents’ house. Michael knows that no one is perfect and some may look down on him because he is not able to be as involved in his children’s lives as he is with his youngest daughter, but life is much more complicated than black and white and he does what he can to support all of his children and be there for them.
“Michael has been involved in Healthy Families for a little over a year because he and his fiancé are determined to make things work for their family. Michael and Kendralynn (fiancé) do everything they can to make sure that their daughter is on track developmentally and she is doing tremendously well. Up until a few months ago, Michael didn’t have a vehicle and this made it next to impossible for him to be able to visit his children. With a lot of work and planning, he and Kendralynn were able to get a car and this has opened up the opportunities he has been waiting for to be able to visit his other children more often. He makes the sacrifices that are necessary to make sure he is able to make his car payments each month because it is his ticket to see his children. Michael’s determination to fulfill his role as a father is even stronger than most because, as you can imagine, he understands the life-long impact that he can make on the lives of each of his children. Although he probably wouldn’t admit this, Michael is the best father he knows. He will tell you that he does all he can do for his children, and in my opinion, he is worthy of recognizing.” Amanda Foster, Family Support Worker, Healthy Families Bay.
“Michael Kalagher is a twenty six year old father of three, Liz 5, Aaliyah 2, and M.J. 9 months. Michael and Evelyn have known each other since high school and have been together for the past eight years. Michael works hard as a shift manager at Taco Bell and has been employed there for seven years. He also works hard at home although he makes it seem effortless. Michael always has a smile on his face and something positive to say, no matter what the topic. He is very hands on with the children addressing their needs and works side by side with Evelyn cleaning house, feeding the children or whatever task needs to be completed. Michael is usually home during our home visits and he more often than not participates in the visit giving updates on M.J.’s development or what the girls have done since the last visit. He is the first to jump up and attend to the children’s needs never raising his voice or becoming irritated when there is a disagreement. I recall one visit when I was talking with Evelyn and Michael was getting the children ready to an outing after the visit. He gave the two girls their baths, dressed them, then came out and picked up M.J. to dress him in a new outfit, all so calmly and effortlessly. When my visit was over, everyone was ready to go for some family time.
“Evelyn gets very emotional when she speaks of Michael and usually starts to cry. Michael lost his mother at age seven and Evelyn cannot imagine growing up without a mother. She says that he is so pleasant and calm always to her and the children. If she makes a mistake, he tells her it is okay and that they will work it out. He sends her a text everyday on her way to work wishing her to have a great day and frequently compliments her and tells her how pretty she is. Michael says that he loves his family more than anything and wants to be able to provide them with their needs. He doesn’t want them to grow up minus a parent. One visit with Evelyn, I asked her, what she wanted for her child (M.J.), what type of person does she want him to be? Her tearful response was that she wanted him “to grow up to be just like his Dad”.” Joanie Roberts, Family Support Worker, Healthy Families Pasco-Hernando.
“Todd Cook is a 20 year old unmarried, employed single African American father that has an infant son.Todd is very supportive of the mother of his infant son. The father and mother share a home with her sister. Since the onset of the infant’s birth, Todd has assisted his son’s mother with infant care, hands on for example, diapering, providing skin to skin when his son needs soothing, he is very attentive to mom’s needs, caring for his son so that the mother of his son can get some rest. Recently Todd has shown incredible maturity that can be accredited with saving his son’s life. Todd came home and noted his infant son tilting his head to one side and shared his observation with the mother. Todd had his son evaluated at a local area hospital emergency department he was diagnosed with a fever, and discharged home on Tylenol suppositories. Todd, still being concern about his infant son, became an advocate for his child. Todd pushed and pushed requesting further evaluation for his infant son. A few days later his son began vomiting bile, he was taken to Wolfson Children’s’ Hospital where he underwent an emergency appendectomy and bowel obstruction repair. Through it all Todd credits his faith and prayers has kept the family together and strong through this ordeal. His infant son remains hospitalized; Todd continues to work part-time and provide rest for his son’s mother during his hospital stay. Todd is always eager to learn all he can to better care for his infant son.” Odille Thomas, RN, Senior Community Health Nurse, The Magnolia Project-Healthy Start Jacksonville.
“Miguel Rosales is married to Sofia and has 5 children. He has been a member of the BRIDGES program since July 2011. Despite having challenges with transportation since he cannot drive, Mr. Rosales makes sure his family has access to transportation by purchasing bus passes each month. Mr. Rosales not only encourages his family to attend activities, but he also attends activities to learn about community resources. He is very supportive of his children and encourages them to work hard to accomplish their dreams. Mr. Rosales spends a lot of quality time with his entire family whether it’s taking them out to eat or giving his older children advice. He attends every school function and award ceremony that his children are involved in. Mr. Rosales, who cannot read, believes that reading is an important skill for his children to develop. He makes sure his 7-year-old daughter reads every day. Mr. Rosales is a great example of a father because he works hard to make sure his family does things together as a family.” Nina G. Wills, Outreach Coordinator, Bridges at Pahokee.
“From the first home visit with Adia, I knew the Brandon Massey, the father of her baby, was special. He stated he wanted to know everything about her pregnancy to ensure “everything went right”. During that and subsequent visits, he had his laptop out typing everything I said and asked pertinent questions. Due to both of their work schedules, childbirth classes weren’t an option. Instead he went online and studied everything available for being a labor support person. He remained with her during all 14 hours of labor and delivery and happily cut the cord. Since the delivery, Brandon has been an exemplary father, offering his assistance in diapering, bathing, feeding pumped breast milk, and constant skin-to-skin touch. Being actively engaged in all aspects of his son’s life takes precedence over everything. He never complains about childcare. Brandon exhibits his compassionate side still with Adia and constantly offers his assistance to her, even if it’s just running to the store to pick up something she desires to have for herself. He and Adia include both of their extended family members in baby Brayden’s life.
“This year Father’s Day was extra special and Brandon was brought to tears as Adia presented him with a painted plaster cast of his son’s hand-print. Brandon hasn’t stopped inquiring about his son’s well-being. Both he and Adia continue to seek knowledge on parenting and desire to still have my Healthy Start services monthly.” Tina Johnson, Healthy Start Supervisor, Duval County Health Department-Healthy Start.
“Roberto Prieto is married to Maria and has 2 sons. He has been a member of the BRIDGES program since June 2011. Mr. Prieto makes sure his wife and children have access to activities by bringing them to the site. Although English is not his first language, Mr. Prieto does stay during the activities to learn and be supportive.
“Mr. Prieto emphasizes a healthy lifestyle to his family. He has changed his eating habits so that his boys will eat healthier. He also exercises with his children on a frequent basis. Every year, he ensures that his children have their annual physical before school starts. Mr. Prieto is a great father because he teaches his children about the importance of being physically active and healthy.” Nina G. Wills, Outreach Coordinator, Bridges at Pahokee.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Alkareem “Al” Brown for the past 9 months, since I evaluated his son, Kyair for physical therapy. Kyair was born with Brachial Plexus Injury, a severe nerve injury to his right arm, resulting in difficulty using that arm actively. Al described how Kyair couldn’t move his arm and kept it straight at first, but he massaged and flexed the arm every day and made sure it was always in a good position. Al and his wife, Shakiva, immediately explored the internet, searching for the best treatments, doctors and research they could find, and began to implement their own exercise program with Kyair. At that time, Kyair’s parents felt it was best for him to stay at home with his dad, so he could be constantly stimulated to do things with his right hand. When I began working with Kyair, he had already begun to use his right hand to try to grasp and could bend and straighten his elbow and shoulder. I was impressed with Al’s dedication and creativity in getting his little baby son to ”work that arm”. He would hold Kyair under the pull chain to the lights and help him reach up and grasp the chain to pull down. He filled little water bottles with rice to shake and reach for. And with each activity and challenge that Al presented to his son, Kyair responded with excitement and eagerness. When Kyair started daycare at Easter Seals, it seemed that the transition was as hard on Al as it was on Kyair. But they both adjusted within a short time, and Al would spend an extra hour when he arrived to drop off Kyair to play with him and help him feel comfortable as well as continue with his therapy. Al is always thinking of new ways to help his son get stronger and works tirelessly with him. His goal is to help Kyair avoid surgery due to deformity and weakness and he is well on the way to achieving that goal.
“Al is an inspiration to me and all who know him, as he is a dedicated father, a loving cheerleader and a tireless and creative therapist for his son.” Mary Pengelley, Director of Physical Therapy, Progressive Pediatric Therapy, Inc.- Treasure Coast Early Steps.
“I am pleased to nominate Wilmar Canezo to the Honor A Father’s Recognition Program. Wilmar has demonstrated courage, strength and discipline in taking on the role of fatherhood. In the first years of his families’ life Wilmar was struck with a serious medical condition which left him unemployed and disabled. He was paralyzed on one side. He has progressed to the point where he rides a bicycle, does laundry, operates the dishwasher, cleans the home and cares for his children. This positive parenting commitment allows his children to grow and develop in a healthy manner through his personal goal of being a good parent. As the daily caretaker, Wilmar provides the children with attentiveness and needs fulfillment which aids with their bonding. He has been successful in the children’s daily routines of feeding, reading to, putting to bed, dressing, discipline and bathing.
“Wilmar knows the importance of reading to his children at bedtime and teaching them manners. Wilmar encourages and models to his children: playing games, bike riding, swimming and doing to the park. At my home visits he provides discipline in a loving respectful manner to which the children respond. He has also enrolled himself into Vocational Rehabilitation. He has attended multiple appointments and evaluation and is at the point of job placement. He also works part-time at his brother’s business. He has participated over the past three years in the Healthy Families program with enthusiasm. The basis of his success in being a great dad are: the children respond to him positively with affection, are developing on target mentally and physically, and treat others with respect and kindness. They say please and thank you. These are some of the many changes that Wilmar has made to overcome his disability and become a “hands on” dad. I appreciate the opportunity to nominate the Wilmar for the special recognition of the “Honor a Father Award.” I am proud to be part of such a program and see the magnitude of the visible results with Wilmar.” Michael Chapman, Family Support Worker, Healthy Families Pinellas.