George Johnson, a sheriff's deputy and father of three, started attending the Chesterfield County peer group sessions several months ago.
He was having trouble gaining visitation rights to see his daughter, who lives 16 hours away in another state. Lacking the funds to make such a long trip regularly, he had trouble communicating with the mother of his child and understanding what steps he needed to take to improve his relationships with his family.
The group sessions helped him gain a new perspective, not just on his own situation, but on other fathers’ experiences as well.
“You don’t find too many fathers trying to fight for a relationship with their child,” Johnson said. “Men, in my opinion, being in law enforcement, I’ve always seen the side where the mom gets help but the father never gets help. To be able to see a group of guys wanting to change, trying to be better about paying child support, I’ve never seen it. That surprised me a whole lot.”
At the peer group sessions, Johnson appreciated the laid-back atmosphere and the ability to open up to people struggling with similar issues as himself.
“I don’t feel like it’s a group therapy session. It’s more like a bunch of guys getting together, being able to talk, being able to be real with each other, no matter your race, ethnic background, no matter what it is,” Johnson said.
Through Man 2 Man, Johnson has learned to be more patient. He’s learned to be a better listener on the job, have sympathy for others regardless of their situation and ultimately look at the bigger picture.
Man 2 Man helped him not only become a better father, but a better deputy and a better man.