DETROIT (WXYZ) — "I didn't have a father in my life, I wasn’t taught financial literacy,” said Willie Bell.
“Men need help just like mothers need help, fathers need help, we help them get that 2nd chance,” said Bell.
When we first met Willie Bell in November of 2019, he was already helping men become better fathers through a program he founded out of needs in his own life. Called F.A.R.M. (Family Assistance for Renaissance Men).
A male mentoring program referred by the courts that help to reshape what struggling fathers feel about family.
“We’ve grown tremendously since the last interview with channel 7,” said Bell. “We're approaching 300 men that we've graduated from the program.”
Now not only has the program been flourishing from the inside out.
“I realize it was more than just paying tickets, it was to change how I thought about family and moved and changed my family as a man, in general,” said Kinnard Clay, F.A.R.M graduate.
WXYZ’s Glenda Lewis asked, “What immediately changed for you?”
“The way that I look at family child girlfriend future wife, you may have differences in how you feel but at the same time. Being respectful of how they feel, try to be more understanding,” said Clay.
“That's the most important thing anybody can teach anything physical but when feelings change your prospective in life, that's the most powerful thing,” said Lewis.
“We cry together, we laugh together, we rejoice together and just a freedom to be yourself,” said Anthony Tuppins, F.A.R.M. Mentor.
“Part of that key is to get them to open up, to let them know that this is real, to let them know we got your back. These brothers are going through a lot, and we need them to be the men God called them to be. for their families, for themselves,” said Tuppins.
“We say, never look down on a brother unless you are reaching to pick him up,” said an emotional Tuppins.
F.A.R.M. is one of 13 Detroit area organizations getting a portion of more than half a million dollars in grant funding. Given to the United Way Southeastern Michigan, by a billionaires ex-wife on a mission.
“We are the recipient of Mackenzie Scott Fund. So, we allocated $570 thousand of that fund toward racial inequity for men in our community wanting to be actively involved in our children's lives,” said Andre Ebron, Sr. Dir. of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for United Way Southeastern Mi.
“What will that money mean for this organization?” asked Lewis.
“It will mean more fathers have an opportunity to spend time with their children and turning their whole families' lives rather than placed in a situation where it's unfairly biased if you will,” said Bell.
We started getting the results, we started seeing these men with their children that couldn't see their children before. We started seeing men getting jobs. We started seeing men avert jail sentencing as a result of coming into the program. We have 34 judges connected to this program and many are court ordered to us,” said Bell. “We've grown so tremendously.”