Programs for young fathers are lacking. So one man made his own. And now it's thriving.
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Dignity Health 2017

When Barry McIntosh used to give presentations about young fathers, he'd open with a straightforward question: "Are moms important?"

The response is pretty obvious. "What a stupid question to ask! Of course they’re important!" McIntosh says with a chuckle. So he follows up with another. "But, you know, are fathers important then? And the subtext of that is, well, maybe there’s a question around that."

Barry McIntosh (right) with bilingual case manager Gabriel Ortega. All images via Barry McIntosh, used with permission.


McIntosh is the founder and former director of the program Young Fathers of Santa Fe, which helps coach and support teen dads.

He's retired now and has turned over the directorship to his close friend and colleague Johnny Wilson but McIntosh still stays very much involved with the cause. "There are so many programs for mothers, and there’s very few programs for fathers," says McIntosh. "They want to be great dads, but they don’t know how."

He has a point. When it comes to teenage parents, most national programs do focus on the needs of the teen mother, often leaving young fathers overlooked. So when they want to play an active role in their kid's life, it can be hard for them to know how — and the long list of daddy duties can be intimidating and confusing.

That's why Young Fathers of Santa Fe provides guidance and assistance for every step a father might take — from helping obtain visitation rights to talking to their kid about the birds and the bees.

"We had a guy come in and he said: 'I've gotten a letter from the state that I owe child support. I didn’t even know I had a kid!'" McIntosh recalls. But they took a breath and came up with a plan of action to help him become the father his kid needed.

"Eventually, he was getting overnights and he was being part of his kid’s life as any other dad would be."

Gabriel Ortega (second from left) with three young fathers graduating from Capital High School.

"It could be getting a job, finding housing, could be raising the kid, taking the kid into child care, getting a good babysitter that you can trust," enumerates McIntosh. "We’re not necessarily gonna tell them what to do, but we’re gonna help them come up with solutions to their own problems."

Of course, the young moms are very much welcome to be part of the process. "They love it, but there’s usually a little trepidation at first," says McIntosh. "They think it’s a bunch of guys talking about their girlfriends." On the contrary, it's a bunch of guys talking about how they want to build a family.

Young Fathers of Santa Fe also does a lot of work around reducing teen pregnancy through their other program, the Future Men Project.

"It's working with seventh- and eighth-graders, sometimes sixth-graders," adds McIntosh. "Trying to help them realize what it means to be a man and a responsible man, so that when they’re ready to become a father, this is a planned child."

Considering New Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, a program like this has the power to change a lot of lives.

Advisory board member Marcus Vigil and his son Marcus Jr.

"It's helped me out a bunch because I didn't know any information about being a father," says Marcus Vigil. Vigil is one of the young fathers in the program; he entered in 2010 and is now on the advisory board, helping educate other young fathers on the responsibilities of parenthood and how to prevent early pregnancies.

Vigil's advice to other would-be fathers? "Don’t be scared. Don’t get afraid," he says. "Just work at being a father because you can do it and it could be the best thing that could happen in your life."

When these young fathers start paying it forward and mentoring the future generation, that's when you know the program has done something special.

"I continue to go back, and I stay engaged," says Vigil. "Just try to participate so that I can make a difference in someone else's life."

"This is the exceptionally cool part," adds McIntosh. In fact, one of the young fathers he worked with, Richard "Vivo" Cornejo, started his own program in Texas focusing on the same cause.

Richard "Vivo" Cornejo (left) snapping a selfie with his son.

Truly amazing things can happen now that these men know they have the support they need to be the best dads they can be. "There is always somebody that will help, that wants you to be a great dad," says McIntosh.

"If you want to be a great dad, you can do it. You may have to do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone."

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less