DETROIT (WXYZ) — Fatherhood is a tremendous gift and to have the responsibility of shaping the life of a child is monumental.
But parenthood is not always easy, especially when you weren’t taught how to be one.
That's where F.A.R.M. comes in -- it stands for Family Assistance For Renaissance Men.
CEO and Founder Willie Bell has made it his duty to help the men in the program become the great dads they always dreamed of being, by giving them a second chance with their family.
“Men need help just like mothers need help. Fathers need help getting back on track”, says Bell.
F.A.R.M.'s sole purpose is to reunite fathers and their children by arming them with the tools they need.
Joseph Hensley is a proud F.A.R.M member. But it's been a long road. After Hensley was released from jail, he didn't know where to turn.
He knew that he needed to reconnect with his children, start paying child support and and that he wanted a job with a title that he and his family could be proud of.
“There’s a lot of dads that don’t know what to do ... What to do in the court system, I didn’t have a clue what to do. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t want to go on assistance. I wanted to figure it out myself”, says Hensley.
So he turned to F.A.R.M. Bell, along with a dedicated team of mentors, supporters and family expert professionals helped guide the 41-year-old in the right direction.
Bell says the program's sole purpose is to reunite fathers with their children by teaching them the true meaning of fatherhood and how to leave behind a legacy, an inheritance, that can be passed on for generations.
“The inheritance that we want them to show their children is themselves, their presence. Fathers being in their children’s lives, whether in the home or out of the home, as long as they are contributing to their children is key”, shares Bell.
Because when that happens, the positive aspects of fatherhood and family go up.
It’s alarming, how the number homeless young people, runaways, high school drop outs, children with behavioral problems comes from fatherlessness.
The F.A.R.M program teaches men how to take responsibility, the value of a strong work ethic, strength of character, optimism and love. F.A.R.M. holds men accountable in every aspect of their lives.
“Usually daddy just came through, dropped off some money, bought some presents and just beat it. That’s who I was as a father. Now, I feel like I’m a good father. I actively recruit. I actively tell people about the F.A.R.M program”, says Hensley.
Hensley and the men in the program volunteer across the city and share their testimonies and who they were, and who they are now.
“I didn’t have a title. These days, I have a title with my church. I have a title with my job. I’m Mr. Hensley," he said.
Hensley is a Union Carpentry Apprentice. He is proud to say he is now married.
“F.A.R.M doesn’t just mend relationships with your children. The farm is mending relationships with the whole family”, says Hensley.
"There’s hope," says Bell. "If you really want to turn things around. If you really want to be a better father, be a better man, to be a contributor in society. If you really want to do it, you can do it. You just have to be willing to change the way you are thinking. And if you do there is a whole other reward on the other side for you and for your children’s children."
The F.A.R.M. Program is only possible with funds from donors, companies and people in the community who believe in the importance of a contributing father.
F.A.R.M. has been helping men along their new journey for six years now. The program is in need of more funding because there is a waiting list of men who are eager to become part of the program.
This is Joseph Hensley...He's talking about Willie Bell, founder of a program called F.A.R.M. It stands for #Family Assistance for Renaissance Men - and its goal is to help men become better fathers. @AndreaIsomWXYZ TONIGHT on 7 Action News at 6 @fatherhoodinst @BlackFatherhood pic.twitter.com/1KhXIFMy07
— WXYZ Detroit (@wxyzdetroit) November 19, 2019
Bell has not taken on this mission alone. There are some incredible women behind the program.
We sat down together and talked about why these women are so committed this journey.
Meet Carolyn Dayton. Dayton is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Wayne State University and a F.A.R.M. Program Evaluator; Deloris Curry, F.A.R.M. Program Social worker; Amani El-Edlebi, F.A.R.M Program Social Worker Intern; Felicia Taylor, F.A.R.M Program Social Worker Intern.
To Learn more about F.A.R.M go to www.farm-mi.org or call 313-717-2882.
Thanks to my friend & @wxyzdetroit co-worker @JRoseWXYZ Justin met Willie Bell, the F.A.R.M. founder and CEO while covering the @DetroitLionsPro Wille gave Justin his business card and he passed it over to me! Thank you, for helping me make this story happen, Justin! #Teamwork pic.twitter.com/rcgFJqAFf6
— Andrea Isom (@AndreaIsomWXYZ) November 19, 2019
Joseph is a perfect example, that if you want to become a better Dad ... with the right people by your side ... YOU CAN! 🙌🏾 It was very rewarding to share his testimony. https://t.co/Y9tCReF6XE
— Andrea Isom (@AndreaIsomWXYZ) November 19, 2019