A father in the Boston area was sentenced to a year behind bars for possession of marijuana in 2017.
When that father, Oswaldo Ortiz, was released from prison last year, he reached out to the nonprofit Fathers’ Uplift, which helps fathers fighting addiction issues and other obstacles, according to ABC News.
“When I got out, it was scary because I had nowhere to go … I didn’t want to go back to the same old hangout,” Ortiz told the TV station. “And I didn’t have any money. I needed clothing.”
“Going to Fathers’ Uplift was a like huge shield was placed over me to protect me,” he said.
That organization’s founder, Charles Daniels, was selected as a 2019 Obama Foundation fellow, according to former President Barack Obama‘s nonprofit.
“It’s a big day for Fathers’ Uplift, Inc.. I’ve been selected as one of the 2019 #ObamaFellows,” Daniels said on the Fathers’ Uplift Instagram page April 30, when the honor was announced. “Over the next two years I’ll work with the @ObamaFoundation to learn how to scale my work and expand my impact.”
So far, the organization, which Charles Daniels started with his wife, Samantha Fils-Daniels, has helped almost 3,000 fathers, ABC News reported.
Ortiz told the news station he doesn’t know where he would have ended up without the nonprofit.
“We see there’s a misconception that fathers behind bars don’t care about their kids. We know that they do care,” Ortiz said. “When they held their child for the first time, they did not imagine living a life without them.”
Of the more than 800,000 incarcerated parents in federal and state prisons, 92 percent of them are fathers, according to the federally-funded National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.
“We live in a world where men are expected to be strong all the time, so at Fathers’ Uplift the goal is to make sure that these dads have a place where they can be vulnerable,” Charles said in video posted on the Obama Foundation’s website.
Charles, who also is a father, said on his organization’s website he was raised by his mom, his dad reportedly having left when he was 10 years old.
“I thought about the things he was going through that prevented him from remaining active in my life,” Charles said. “Then I said to myself, ‘What if someone had been there to help him?’ It might have made a tremendous difference.”