It’s a shocking statistic: Four of every 10 American children are raised in a home without a dad, said David Hirsch, of Barrington, founder of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative.
In 1996, Hirsh was busy finishing a fellowship and concerned about his own relationship with his children.
“My biggest fear was not to have the close relationship with my like kids like I did with my dad,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch believed fathers need good resources to be better dads and founded the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative in 1997.
The mission of Illinois Fatherhood Initiative is "connecting children and fathers" by promoting responsible fathering and helping equip men to become better fathers or father-figures. There are many negative outcomes associated with fatherlessness, including a greater risk of participating in criminal activity.
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative has been successful in raising awareness of the importance of good fathers. The organization has attracted the support of celebrities from Chicago sports teams, business and state government officials.
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative offers programs including Boot Camp for New Dads, offered at area hospitals, and WATCH DOGS (Dads of Great Students), safe school initiative of the National Center for Fathering that involves fathers and father figures in helping to create a safer and more secure learning environment in our nation's schools.
An annual Chicago White Sox Fatherhood Essay Contest attracts thousands of entrants and 800 to 900 volunteers are needed just to read the essays.
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative is holding its annual Football Fantasy Raffle and the grand prize is dinner for 20 at Ditka’s Restaurant with “Da Coach” himself. First prize is a Bears vs. Seahawks Game Day Experience for 15, which includes game tickets, round-trip transportation and two hours of tailgating. Second to 10th prizes are autographed Bears merchandize, game tickets and gift certificates to Ditka’s Restaurant.
Raffle tickets are $100 each and only 1,000 will be sold. The drawing will take place at noon Dec. 13. Purchase tickets at the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative website.
Hirsch said Illinois Fatherhood Initiative is making a difference by keeping the importance of father-child relationships in the forefront.
“People have said it has changed their lives. They have become more child-centric,” Hirsch said.