YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Sunday, United Returning Citizens helped connect previously incarcerated fathers with their families.
As part of URC’s new fatherhood initiative, the organization put on a Father’s Day Brunch in the Wick Park Pavilion.
“The absence of a father — and what that does to society, to the community, to everybody — is a horror,” John Coppola of URC said. “We will all be better off if we can start with this first step.”
Samuel Byre was in federal prison for 37 years before being released in March. He said events like Sunday’s help him reconnect with his kids.
“It’s wonderful because, you know, you lose so much time with them,” Byre said. “And its like meeting a stranger on the streets.”
Mykel Phipps celebrated with his 6-month-old son Demetrio. He’s volunteering with URC after doing a stint in the Mahoning County Jail.
Phipps grew up without a father. He said Demetrio will never experience that.
“I want to be there for him,” Phipps said, “so he won’t have to grow up like I did without having anybody or feeling like you don’t have [anyone] to talk to.”
Byre said he suffered knowing his children were growing up without him. That’s why he’s hoping all fathers do whatever they can to be present for their kids.
“Get fathers together and encourage them to continue to do the things that are relevant in the lives of their kids,” Byre said.
Father’s Day is June 18.
United Returning Citizens plans to kick off its year-long fatherhood initiative toward the end of this month. For more on the organization, check out its Facebook page here.