Longform

Day of the Dad

Page 7 of 7

Robert Brady and Trinidad Sanchez have also seen results.

"We are able to access more men and get them involved," Brady says. "When I started ten years ago, I'd get calls six or seven times a day from fathers who were frustrated because they couldn't see their kids, or were being manipulated by the mom, or were beaten down by the blanket policies of the deadbeat dads. Now dads have more access to their kids, and they're discovering that they have rights."

But things are far from perfect. City, state and federal budget cuts, as well as a drop in non-profit grants and donations, have shaken many fatherhood programs to the core. Human Services Inc., which has graduated 100 young fathers through its program, recently laid off staff and was cut to the bare bones. Los Padres, which serves 200 fathers statewide, had to sell its curriculum to agencies including Rocky Mountain SER Head Start in order to stay afloat.

Despite the budget crunch, the city remains committed to doing what it can, says Sue Cobb, media-relations administrator for Denver Human Services. On June 12, Denver will hold its annual fatherhood fair. Mayor Wellington Webb is expected to proclaim June 14 "Responsible Fathers Day." But goodwill alone won't keep Colorado's fatherhood movement going forward.

"Many of the programs are at risk of being cut or discontinued as a result of funding challenges at every level of government," Cobb says. "That would be really unfortunate, because these programs -- which used to be a bit far-flung, with everyone acting somewhat independently -- have evolved into a wonderful model of partnership that stretches limited funding to provide innovative service and support to families."

More than ever, diPaulo is needed at work -- but he's also needed at home, where quality time is tight. He never reconciled with his own father, who died several years ago, and doesn't want to have similar issues with his own sons. But despite his progress, his mother still lectures him: "When are you going to get married? Those boys need a mother. They need love."

DiPaulo loves his sons. And his sons, who are now fifteen, thirteen and twelve, know it. They know their father is doing his best.

A couple of years ago, Jaime Jr. asked his father a question: "Dad, what's a wet dream?"

When he was thirteen, diPaulo would never have asked his dad such a question. When he wanted to know about sex -- or anything remotely personal -- he went to his friends, his teachers or the streets. Not his dad. But Jaime Jr. had come to him. Not the streets. Him.

"He was saying, 'I trust you,'" diPaulo remembers. "He was saying, 'You're there for me.'

"For a guy like me, that meant the world."

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Harrison Fletcher