January 2, 2020

Fatherhood program helps father recover from life-changing injury, avoid jail time and get on track to earn GED

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families supports six fatherhood programs in 12 communities across the state to strengthen families through fatherhood engagement. Its mission continues to change lives for fathers and families, which is evident in the help one father has received from the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition to recover from a life-changing injury, focus on earning his GED and building a better relationship with his children. WIS-TV recently reported on his journey.

The video is available here or the full text of the story is below.

Midlands man with one eye who faced jail time, earns GED and free prosthetic eye instead

A Midlands man who lost his eye when he was attacked earlier this year, is scheduled to undergo surgery for a new prosthetic eye. The costs for the treatment are all being covered thanks to the partnership between two local organizations: the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition and Mission Lexington.

The Midlands Fatherhood Coalition has a mission to help local men become better fathers to their children. That support can come in a number of different ways, and in this case, it’s helping a local man who survived a life changing injury.

John Williams, 29, of West Columbia says he has faced a number of difficulties over the last year. He says he lost his right eye in an assault back in April. Shortly after that injury, the father of three was facing jail time for falling behind on child support payments.

He was then connected with the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition. The organization offers a six-month program to men who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, providing an alternative to prison time through a program called Jobs Not Jail.

Frederick Hogsett Jr. is the site manager of the Lexington Midlands Fatherhood Coalition. He says group members often attend various court hearings and will ask the judge to order them into our program instead of jail so that they can be helped with any issues or barriers preventing them from being a better, involved and responsible father.

“He still had his pride, but he kind of had a different walk. His head was little down. He’d never navigated the child support system before, and then you’re dealing with a new injury and dealing with that and how to get employment,”Hogsett said when he first met Williams

Williams describes just how much losing his eye has impacted his life.

“My peripheral has definitely been impacted. I can’t work basically doing the things I used to do. I was doing industrial engineering. So, you need all your eyesight doing stuff like that because you’re constantly around safety hazards,” Williams said.

The Jobs Not Jail program helps local fathers improve their parenting skills, build healthy relationships, learn about economic stability and men’s health. Participants are also given a free health screening. A nurse practitioner who worked with Jobs Not Jail took the first steps to see what more the coalition could do for Williams.

“We reached out to the community and Mission Lexington – with one phone call – the great staff over there said we’ve got it covered and through a program they had, it was taken care of, the rest of the fees for his surgery. Helps him with his self-esteem. Helps him lift his head up,” Hogsett said.

Williams agrees, adding that the support he’s been given has put him farther than he thought he would be.

"I done got my education going and I’m kind of more of a better person, thinking-wise, mentally. I recently got my GED, and now I’m trying to go to tech for automotive technology,” Williams said.

The surgery will be performed by a well-known ocularist in the upstate. Joseph Gorrin is a trained professional skilled in the art of making prosthetic eyes, who will help to transform William’s life. It’s a procedure that can cost up to $3,000, but Gorrin is only charging for the cost of the materials. Mission Lexington will cover the rest.

Hoping 2020 will be a better year, Williams is expected to receive his new prosthetic eye in January, and graduate with his GED in May.

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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