Deondre White loves going the extra mile to help people out.
As a prenatal care coordinator in Milwaukee, his mission is to help young fathers get the resources they need to be better parents.
“I try to lead a lot of men in the right direction because you can get sidetracked in Milwaukee very easily,” said White, who also is studying to be a firefighter.
LaTonya Baker, founder and CEO of Generation of Excellence Trendsetters, said making sure men are served is not an option anymore: It’s a requirement.
“If Dad is not OK, then I don’t care how many services we offer Mom: The household is not OK,” Baker said.
Her organization, located at 6633 W. Mill Road, offers financial literacy services and provides referrals for child care and transportation. Its staff often visits the homes of clients or sets up meetings at nearby spaces.
The services are provided through state insurance programs, such as BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid, and do not carry an out-of-pocket cost.
Baker said that often during home visits, fathers will go to another room because they don’t think the services are for them or are concerned that the workers are “there to snitch” if there’s something on their record. This causes them to miss resources that the prenatal team can connect them with, she said.
White provides services for women as well but said there are fewer resources available for young Black men in Wisconsin.
Melissa Bonds, founder and CEO of JMJ Consulting, said the team takes a “teach them how to fish” mentality to give families the tools they need to sustain themselves.
“Our ultimate goal is to create a community that advocates for themselves,” Bonds said.
Bonds said this includes creating spaces where men feel free to speak for themselves and determine what they need.
“One thing I’m learning about men is that they just need someone to listen or at least validate their feelings,” Baker said.
White said he’s there to encourage his clients.
“Stay motivated,” White said. “It gets hard, but you’ve got to keep going and look at the big picture. You have to do this for your family … family is big, man.”
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