Dads Work to Change Their Lives

Dads Work to Change Their Lives

It’s a frigid February day in Cheyenne. The wind is howling. Daniel Lucero and eight other dads are building sheds in a giant shop at the landfill west of town. There is no heat and no one will take home a paycheck. Yet everyone is smiling.

The men here are learning carpentry skills. They have been for months now. They are also learning about themselves and what it will take to improve their lives. It’s all part of Dads Making a Difference, a program granted to by the Wyoming Community Foundation because of your support.

It Doesn’t Pay but it Pays Off

“I envision a house where my kids can play,” says Daniel Lucero.

A few years ago, Daniel would not have uttered those words. He had three kids. His wife stayed at home to cut back on childcare costs. In order to make ends meet, he was working 60-80 hours a week. A house was nowhere in the equation.

Then Daniel was introduced to Dads Making a Difference, a training-to-work program for low income fathers experiencing multiple barriers to self-sufficiency.

He was told by program directors that the program would be hard.  He might struggle at first to make ends meet.

“They told me the program doesn’t pay,” Daniel says, “but they promised it would pay off. I thought, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m not seeing my family now as it is.’”

He turned in the application in the next day.

Daniel Works for a Better Life

“They tell us that if you empower yourself with education, if you envision it, it will happen.”

Daniel and the rest of the dads have learned so much over the past few months from Dads Making a Difference – and not just about carpentry. They’ve become better people. Better fathers.

“The first thing they ask us,” says Daniel, “is, are we ready to leave the childish behaviors behind.”

The dads working this cold day clearly are. They’re bundled up and working. After they’re done here, most will head to their paying job. They’ve still got a family to help care for.

While it may be tough, Daniel says, “One thing keeps me going. My kids. They rush to me and say, ‘Daddy!'”

Hopefully soon, they will be saying ‘Daddy!’ in a house of their own.

2007: Year the program began

143: Graduates

95%: Job placement

207%: Average wage increase post-program

$19.46: Average starting wage/hr

100%: Child support compliance