Families gathered at the ballroom of Casino Arizona at Talking Stick on December 1 for the sixth annual “Fatherhood and Motherhood Is Sacred” graduation ceremony and ball. Tohono O’odham Nation members from Sells were present representing their programs as well.
Individuals who completed 12 sessions of the program, which helps them deal with substance abuse issues and/or physical abuse, were honored.
“Today is about celebration for all the men and women who have had struggles in their lives and were strong enough to overcome them,” said Chester Mack, liaison for the Fatherhood and Motherhood Is Sacred Program. Mack continued with a welcoming address to the families and guests.
The celebration began with dinner followed by entertainment, including a Tina Turner impersonator, Roberta Johnston, and a comedy performance by Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Dakota Loring.
Later on, a band played chicken scratch music, and raffle drawings were held throughout the evening.
The program was initiated in the Community in 2001, as the Fatherhood Program; then, in 2008, the group expanded to include mothers. Members learn to live by five principles: Creator, because He is in your life, Choices for the choices that you make every day and you can always change them, Teachable because you are willing to learn all over again, Wisdom with the past, present and future and the last principal is Service always give back to the Community.
“Today we are celebrating sober lives,” said Community member and program facilitator Kathleen Fulwilder. “I was an alcoholic at one time and it took me a long time to get here [sobriety].” She shared she has been sober for a year.
“Everything that this program entails taught me how to be responsive as a parent, be active and be in my family’s life because I wasn’t there for my daughter, said Fulwilder. “I would let alcohol take over my life when I couldn’t deal with certain issues and then I just dropped out of life.”
This program helped her and other parents to deal with the situations that caused them to turn to substance abuse and put it behind them because they wanted change to become better parents.
“We want to be the parents that want to grow with their children and teach them,” said Fulwilder. “You can never stop being a parent and the children will forever look up to you because you are their first role model and that’s what I am trying to do today. I want the best for my daughter and for her not to go down the same road as I did. This is what the Motherhood and Fatherhood program has done for me. I enjoy coming to the program every week.”
The program encourages anyone to attend meetings to listen and participate. The message is simple: moving on and not living with those burdens that you created in your life.
The Salt River Fatherhood and Motherhood Is Sacred program has helped numerous Indian communities throughout the state and in other states, such as Nebraska. The program has made a tremendous impact on many Community members who are able to reach out and help others in need.
“We’ve saved a lot of lives,” said program facilitator Virginia Mack, who was once a meth addict, overcame her struggles and has been sober for several years now. She and her husband talked about how they changed their lifestyle because they realized they wanted to live to see their children and grandchildren grow up.
The group meets at the Community Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, contact Virginia Mack at (602) 687-2626. The phone number for building 28, where the program office is located, is (480) 362-6381; you may call and leave a message. Anyone residing on the Community who needs a ride to the meetings can call (480) 241-8935 and leave a message (name, your location and a callback number).
2012 Community Graduates of the Fatherhood and Motherhood Is Sacred Program