GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Standing around a pool table two men are having a conversation.
“There’s like nowhere to go and be like ‘hey let’s be a dad together, you know that daddy support,” Says Davon Ruff.
Ruff is a client of Alpha Grand Rapids. The man he's shooting pool with is Rich Haadsma, a mentor and coach with alpha.
“We get guys coming through our doors all the time that just need a little help and a little encouragement," Haadsma says. "And if we can get them together I think that will be a big help for them.”
The two are standing in the brand new Alpha Men's Center. The organization has been providing men services for years, but going into the women's center has provided a barrier for some. With a new dedicated space, Ruff is optimistic more men will seek resources.
“I think it’s very needed to have a mans center for men to come together and talk about personal things that they're dealing with at home of the struggles that they're facing like employment or stuff like that,” Ruff says.
Alpha provides classes for job training, GED Prep, parenting, English, and more. Any time a client spends at the center earns them alpha bucks, and those can be pretty valuable.
“When I wasn’t able to get a crib I was able to get it through alpha,” Ruff says.
Alpha bucks can be spent on essentials like underwear or hygiene products, or saved up for bigger purchases, making a client feel like a superdad.
“He left with a stroller, big box of diapers," Haadsma says, telling ruff about one of his mentee's. "And he left with a big smile on his face because he knew he was providing for his family.”
Starting next month the Men's center will host a fatherhood group, allowing men in the community to share their experiences and learn from one another.
From the ground up, watch the full time-lapse below:
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