According to an ACTA Paediatrica study, when fathers participate in their child’s education, it boosts their child’s academic performance and self-esteem. Other studies support this claim—and then there is the experiential truth which Michael Balderas witnessed when he volunteered at Catholic Charities Westside Head Start classroom in Phoenix.
“Spending time in the classrooms has shown me that children learn so much and quickly,” said Michael. “They are smart. The children in class make me smile, when I leave for the day, I miss them. They enjoy having me in the class, too. They are glued on to me sometimes, which means they need me, and I am happy to come back.”
Father is Dedicated Volunteer
Michael is a 28-year-old father who started volunteering at Westside Head Start after enrolling his son, Blaze. After a year of volunteering, Michael is now a leader among the fathers. He serves as the president/chairperson of his classrooms’ parent committee meeting and attends other policy group meetings. This year, Westside Head Start fathers chose him to attend the Fathers and Families Coalition of America conference in Los Angeles.
“Michael is an example of a great father who wants to support his children by volunteering in their classroom. He’s also interested in supporting teachers and other fathers,” says Dulce Hernandez, program governance specialist for Westside Head Start. “Michael is setting an example for other fathers and proving that being involved in their child’s education is crucial to the development of their child academically and emotionally. There are not many male teachers in our program, so his presence as a male and a father impacts positively other fathers and children.”
Power of Volunteering
Michael volunteers by helping teachers in the classroom and coordinating events for fathers to connect with their children in the classroom, such as the Strong Father, Strong Families events.
“For me, I never knew the power of volunteering until I started to volunteer,” said Michael. “I made positive relationships with teachers and saw other parents being involved, it motivated me. Volunteering gives you a sense of accomplishment that you did something positive for the kids.”