Imagine having your baby born prematurely and having her in the NICU for over a month. Then CPS gets involved because the baby’s mother is struggling with mental health issues. Spencer had to deal with this as a new dad and at the time he was barely 22 years old. His beautiful daughter was only 1 month old at the time, and despite it all, Spencer was “all smiles.” All though he felt like he was on a sinking ship, he always kept a positive attitude.
In class, he seemed to absorb the material with ease learning along the way how to be the best father he could be. He learned a lot about proper discipline, how to stay in his circle of control and how to “honor” the mother of his child. Whenever he got the chance, he would bring his baby girl to class. She would be in her baby carrier and would be quiet (most of the time). Spencer’s mom was temporarily appointed the custodial parent; therefore, he was able to spend as much time as possible with her. Eventually, CPS awarded him full custody of his daughter, and the case was closed. This was one of the shortest cases I have ever seen.
The FOCUS for Fathers’ class was the only program they required him to take. On graduation night we extend an invitation to all the fathers/participants to come back and volunteer, this way they can support the new upcoming class. Spencer expressed an interest in coming back for two reasons. The first one was to absorb and learn more and the second was to come back and encourage the next round of participants. He wanted to help them make the necessary changes in their lives so they could be the engaged fathers their kids needed.
Spencer had a story to tell, he used to be an alcoholic. His parents had divorced when he was young and his grandmother, the only person he was really close to, passed away in 2016. He had overcome many adversities and he wanted to share his story with the hope that it would encourage other fathers to overcome their issues so they could truly emerge themselves in their kids’ lives.
He credits the FOCUS for Fathers’ class, his grandmother, and of course his baby girl with the motivation to change his life.
Spencer has become a very important part of our FOCUS for Fathers’ class. We have called him our class “mascot.” He has supported other fathers through ups and downs. His daughter had a serious life-threatening emergency and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Dallas when she was 6 months old. I went and visited him and his daughter there at the hospital. It was amazing to see Spencer right next to her, without rest through many sleepless nights. I attended her one-year-old birthday party and watched her engorge herself with cake. I was there when his best friend was put in the hospital after getting run over by a truck while bicycling. Most likely I’ll be there for him as long as he needs me, as he is one of us now.
Spencer is well known throughout NewDay Services. At the time, the staff members wanted to meet him, so we invited his daughter and him to our 20th Anniversary Gala at the Omni Hotel. It was awesome to see him dancing with his baby girl. The smiles just kept coming.
So, he has faithfully served the Plano class now for 7 years. I have known his daughter who is now 7 years old since she was one month old. During one of our recent graduations, I presented him with a Volunteer Certificate that said “Mr. Spencer, FOCUS Ph.D.”