Those who know him say Milton Thomas is an exceptional father. According to government statistics, he's also the exception. In Nashville, 23,000 children grow up without having a relationship with their birth fathers.
"Phew, I tell you, they put gray hairs on me and everything, bit it's all worth it," said Thomas.
During this press conference at Hadley Park today, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean joined other community leaders in welcoming a $4 million "Fatherhood Grant" from the Federal government. The money will be used in designated communities for mentoring and training dads to be better dads.
"If dads do not take an active role in kids' lives, if dads do not step up to the plate and raise their children then more often than not the streets will do it for you," said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.
Thomas lost both his parents to cancer when he was in high school. That loss made him even more determined to be a good dad to Dominique and her three siblings. He participates in parenting programs at the Martha O' Bryan Center. This agency will be one of several community partners receiving some of the grant money to help fathers with life-skills training and education.
" The risk when children do not have that healthy relationship with birth fathers affects all of us," said Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge Metro Health Department.
The $4 million grant will be split into three years. Milton Thomas and other dads will know if it was worth it, when their children grow up to be well-rounded, citizens of Nashville.
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