SEATTLE — The mid-90s were a dark and tumultuous time for Marvin and Jeanett Charles.
"We were drug addicts, crack addicts. We had to go into treatment. We had to go to court processes. We had to fight for our kids to come home," said Jeanett.
After getting their lives back on track and seeing a lack of support structure for fathers, the two started a nonprofit organization called, D.A.D.S., which stands for Divine Alternatives for Dads Services.
"Our mission is to restore an absent father to their home, giving fathers hope by walking in supportive community," Jeanett said.
The organization offers support groups for men.
"It's a band of men from the park bench to Park Avenue as we say. So men from the Eiffel Towers to people just coming out of prison," she said. "They can sit in the same room and just recognize who they are as a man first and that they're not walking this walk by themselves."
"Our goal is to get them in a position to take care of their responsibility, be it help them find a job, help them find treatment, whatever their hurdles are at that time," said Jeanett. "We walk with them through that, we give them an understanding of where they currently are with their situation. And then tell them what best next step could help them move through a process.”
In the 24 years since they started, D.A.D.S. has helped nearly 5,000 fathers reconnect with their children.
"Every day Marvin and I wake up it’s to say, 'how can we help somebody else today?' Our rewards come from being able to see smiles on other people's faces when they came in with frowns. Our rewards come from watching the changes in their lives when they've come from nothing to something. Our rewards come from watching our team get excited about helping somebody else and seeing the miracles happen. It's amazing," Jeanett said.
Their past is a painful memory. But thanks to Marvin and Jeanett's compassion, D.A.D.S. is giving fathers and their kids a brighter future.
"The hopelessness is what these men have when they walk in the doors of D.A.D.S. The hope is what they find when they leave."