More than $1.5 million in grant funding will help Kentucky River Foothills and its project partner, Gateway Community Services Organization, build stronger, healthier families and better fathers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administered a $1,599,998 grant this week for both agencies which serve Madison, Bath, Clark, Estill, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Powell and Rowan counties. The funding will be divided equally between the two agencies.

These grant funds will help address family needs, including providing services to improve marriage and relationship skills promoting economic stability and self-sufficiency, according to Karen Bailey, Kentucky River Foothills spokesperson.

This is “ ... part of the overall strategy to promote healthy marriage and effective fatherhood efforts, including job and career advancement activities,” Bailey said.

Kentucky River Foothills, with Gateway as a partner, was chosen as one of only 55 agencies in the nation to receive Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood grant funds and Community-Centered Healthy Marriage grant funding.

Organizations receiving healthy marriage grants provide a range of services from marriage education, divorce reduction and marriage and relationship skills to parenting skills, financial management, conflict resolution and job and career advancement.  

“Healthy marriages are mutually enriching, with both spouses having a deep respect for each other,” Bailey said. “The relationship is beneficial to both spouses as well as any children in the family.”

As a result of the services to be provided by these grants, Kentucky River Foothills expects to promote improved marriage/relationship and fatherhood skills as well as job and career advancement activities to promote economic stability and self-sufficiency as part of an overall strategy to strengthen families, she said.

Fatherhood program funding must be used to promote responsible fatherhood through activities that promote or sustain marriage and responsible parenting, and that foster economic stability.  

“Responsible fatherhood involves commitment, integrity, self-sacrifice and unconditional love for one’s children,” Bailey said. “Responsible fathers love their children, spend time with them, praise them, protect and provide for them and help them deal with the struggles of life.”

Partnering with the Gateway enables Kentucky River Foothills to propose projects that utilize the abilities and resources of the two organizations, according to Vicki Jozefowicz, Foothills’ executive director.

“We believe that the power of partnership made our applications much stronger than if either of us had applied independently,” Jozefowicz said.

Gateway and the Kentucky River Foothills are non-profit, community action agencies created by the federal government in 1964 to combat poverty in geographically designated areas.

Call Melissa Gross, project coordinator, at 624-2046 for more information about the programs, which are scheduled to begin next month.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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