He turned his life around because of male influence and now he and his friend have created an organization to help other men be "good dads."
KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz wanted to see how they plan to do it and to Pay It Forward.
"It's time that we step up, and we change the mentality," said William Strength.Nathan Johnson and
Strength and his close friend Nathan Johnson are just two dads trying to become better dads. Johnson is a single dad of two kids. Strength is married with four. But it is their back story that led them here and has caused them to want to do more and help other dads.
Strength started in a group home in Alabama as a kid himself. He said he had a rough go of it in his teenage years, involved in drugs and crime. But once he met his wife and had kids in Head Start, things started to change.
"With her help and a lot of help from Head Start guiding me, once my kids got into that program, it pulled me through. And the fatherhood initiatives that are in Head Start is what has inspired me and pushed me to gain abilities and self-satisfaction that I'm able to share that with other men," said Strength.
That male involvement in Head Start is called Super Dads. The same initiative was adopted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 2017. It celebrates fatherhood as an essential role in a child's early cognitive development. And because this made such a difference in the lives of Strength and his family, both he and Johnson started their own nonprofit called "Dad Speak."
"What's the biggest mistake, we as dads, make?" asked Kunz.
"We have too much pride. I will guarantee you that until I was destitute, I would not ask for help with anything," said Johnson.
"Men aren't willing to ask for that help simply because they are afraid of how they are going to look and I want to help change that ideology. And so we are trying to change the mold on how men see themselves in their children's lives, on how the world sees men in the nurturing environment. Because men are as much nurturers as the beautiful women are that give birth to their children," said Strength.
Their goal is to get more dads engaged with their children. Read with them, play with them, get involved. Be a dad. Studies show these small moments in these early developing years are crucial.
Time to Pay It Forward.
"To be trying to provide for a family and at the same time, trying to figure out how," said Johnson.
"Will, Nathan. How are you guys?" said a man walking into the room.
"Very good," said Strength.
"Doing good. How are you doing?" asked Johnson.
"Good, we've heard so much. My name is Kory (Carling) with Mountain American Credit Union," said the man.
"It's nice to meet you," said Johnson.
"Nice to meet you," said Strength.
"We've heard about the impact you're having on our community with all these dads and stuff you are doing, so we're here to help you guys keep it going. So I have brought with me today, $500 in cash that I know you guys can use to continue to keep this having an impact on our community."
"Wow man!" said Strength. "Whoa, dude. Hey!" he said.
"So we would like to Pay It Forward. Congratulations guys," said Carling.
"Thank you very much," said Johnson.
"Thank you man!" said Strength.
"You betcha. Awesome." said Carling.
"Thank you," said Johnson.
"You bet," said Carling.
"Thank you," said Johnson.
"That is, wow. That's beautiful man. Hey, we are going to be doing a lot of stuff," said Strength.
"We are going to try and help out as much as we can," said Johnson.
"Ah man. Hey, that's beautiful."
"Pretty cool," said Carling.
"It's awesome," said Johnson.
Johnson is currently working as a utility engineer for a company out of Austin, Texas.
Strength works for the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 over the summer and substitutes. He is also enrolled at Idaho State University as a double major in social work and political science.
"Dad Speak" held its first meeting in March. They meet the first Monday of every month at the Portneuf District Library at 6 p.m. Strength speaks at Head Start and has spoken at the Idaho Capitol about male involvement. They are working on a website, but the group can be contacted here through Facebook or by searching "Dad Speak."
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.