ELLSWORTH — Gene Drenth grew up with a strong Christian father who passed down his faith and taught by example.
“He taught me a work ethic,” said Drenth, who lives in Ellsworth near the family’s dairy farm. “He taught me how to treat people. How to live morally, legally.”
It’s behavior many young men in northern Michigan never learned, so can’t model for their own children, he said. And it’s why Drenth, 68, became a mentor for “His House,” a new dad’s ministry of Good Samaritan Family Services in Ellsworth.
The Antrim County ministry got off to a slow start Feb. 4-6, with its first evening programs, said director Mike Dennis, a counselor and pastor from Charlevoix.
They include “Journey to Freedom,” a bible-based program that teaches how to break free of addictive behaviors; “Dad’s Night Out,” a mentor program in which young fathers are partnered with older fathers to learn the National Fatherhood Initiative’s “Seven Habits of a 24/7 Dad;” and “What Makes a Man,” a four-day program aimed at young men ages 14 to 18.
The idea was to reach out to some of the young men who visit Ellsworth’s Moms & Tots Center with their partners, with the goal of teaching them to be fathers. But so far the ministry has attracted more volunteer mentors than young men to mentor, Dennis said.
“Men have enough trouble asking for directions, let alone directions for life,” said Dennis, who fosters four teens recovering from addiction.
The Moms & Tots Center was established in 2001 and offers pregnancy and baby resources to about 400 clients per year — mostly young women ages 18 to 21.
“Sometimes the dads will come, too, but it’s harder to get men,” said Carole Broadwick, the center’s director. “Our girls say they’re nervous walking in our center the first time, but they do it. They have needs for their children and that’s what drives them. They’ll come in on the worst snowy day.