MELD seeks men

MELD seeks men

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

MELD (Mothers Establishing Life’s Direction) seeks young fathers looking for support in a new, male version of MELD.

MELD is a nonprofit, social service agency paid for by grants for parents under age 21 who generally are single. MELD also accepts married individuals.

The group, whose headquarters are based in Minneapolis, has traditionally met at such places as churches for young women to acquire support, information and education about being a parent. Currently, three young women’s groups exist, and about eight to 10 people are in each group.

The new male group will allow men to also garner support from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday nights at Salem Lutheran Church, 1629 S. Sixth Street.

The session, which started in October, runs once a week for 10 weeks and will have a two-week break, and start up again in January.

Karen Tilly, director of development for Rockford MELD, is trying to recruit young men along with facilitator, Rodney Prunty.

Prunty said that he’s satisfied with the recruitment process. So far, the group consists of three members. Prunty would like to have 10 to 12 members in the group by Jan. 9, when the next cycle starts. “That’s my goal. It’s going to get bigger, and it’s going to grow,” he noted.

Tilly believes it’s difficult to get young fathers to attend a group. “Once they know about it, they know there’s some support there. I think that pretty much a lot of the guys didn’t know how to be more involved and needed support to know that there are other people in the same situations. They need support to say, ‘let’s work together.’”

Prunty said men have worked together, discussing topics such as what is “great about being a dad;” adding, people who attend meetings realize they can share information, rather than be told how to be a father.

The male group bears similarities to the female groups, but it’s a little different, Prunty noted. “It just has a different tone,” he stated. “When you’re working with males, you have to, almost, in a sense, talk and share feelings without them knowing it.”

In addition to discussion, families get together for activities. Dinner is served before each session at the church for the families. Baby-sitting is available during the sessions.

Also, men and their families can be involved in activities outside of group, but those have not been confirmed yet. MELD’s female members and their children traveled this summer to Chicago, where they had a day filled with shopping. Prunty said activities will be tailored to the interests of members. “Whatever they want to do, they can do it,” he remarked.

Men interested in joining the group can call 965-8336.

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