FAIRMONT – When Rich Noble went through a divorce, he was worried about what effects it would have on the lives of his children.
Despite always being a presence in their lives, he would hear of different impacts fathers have on their kids.
“There is a percentage of children that don’t complete high school if it’s a broken home and the father’s not involved,” Noble said. “I am a divorced father; didn’t mean that I didn’t spend time with my children. I was always there.”
Noble is now an official with the HAPI Project, which stands for Helping Appalachian Parents and Infants, which is an organization meant to assist parents with their children in a multitude of ways. On Oct. 12, Noble will be speaking to parent — particularly fathers — at the Connection Cafe event through the Marion County Family Resource Network.
“I’m there to show what a force a father is in their childrens’ lives,” Noble said. “This gets the fathers involved and as I visit with the dads, I try to give them techniques, books to read, different things where they can connect with their children.”
The Connection Cafe is a revamped version of the Community Baby Shower, which has provided new or expecting mothers with supplies and information to care for a baby for eight years. While the Connection Cafe aims to do the same, the event is geared toward providing men with childcare information in addition to mothers.
“We looked at what we’ve been doing the last eight years, we’ve been doing this,” said Frank Jarman, executive director of the Family Resource Network. “In the past it’s been an FRN thing, so we’re bringing in new people like the MVA Clinic, the HAPI Project, Fairmont Regional along with about three other partners so it really is a community event versus our regular baby shower.”
According to Jarman, the Connection Cafe will still provide parents with supplies and lessons about their use, but there will be more options for information that the parents can receive through the event.
“Maybe they need information on fatherhood, maybe they need information on self-care,” Jarman said. “It’s learning stuff you need to know and choose to learn.”
There will be three sessions with two activities each which the attendees will choose from to attend at the Connection Cafe, with parents being able to choose between lessons about prenatal care and postpartum, appropriate discipline and keeping your baby safe, and fatherhood and self-care.
The different organizations will be present to both share their information, and provide contacts for the parents for future utilization.
“We’re going to have a lot of different resources there... so that moms will have a chance to take part in information,” said Jodi McQuillan, community coordinator for the HAPI Project. “If they have any issues come up after they have their baby or down the road then they know where to turn to. That’s one of our goals is to make sure they’re prepared.”
Jarman said the event will be accepting 20 mothers, fathers or couples, to be the recipients of the supplies. He said the supplies will include diapers, baby wipes, lotion, clothing, toys, as well as car seats that are donated annually by the office of Tim Manchin.
“We still need to collect donations,” Jarman said. “We’ll be getting items from some of the organizations too.”
Noble said he is looking forward to the event because it will give him a chance to make an impact on the lives of families. He expressed that he hopes to pass on the lessons he learned from being a father to those who are expecting, because he believes they would be good to know early in a child’s life.
“They always call it ‘Momma’s boy’ and ‘Daddy’s little girl,’” Noble said. “The boys, they still need that tenderness from the mom and daddy’s girl, because she needs that strength from the dad.
“I just think it’s important that the dads are involved with their children.”
The Connection Cafe will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 12 at the Christ Episcopal Church in Fairmont. To sign up as a participant in the Connection Cafe or to donate supplies to the event, call the Family Resource Network at 304-366-4445, or email the organization at email@example.com.