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Letter: Dubious Title Aside, Efforts Under Way to Strengthen Families

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After reading the Feb. 14 issue of your email newsletter, The Scoop (styleweekly.com/thescoop), I had to comment on your reference to a news release citing Richmond as the country's sixth least faithful city, according to a dating site for married people looking to cheat.

I'll begin by noting the release's low-level research of using per-capita sign-ups for the website. These comparisons often reflect poorly on Richmond because while Richmond is a metropolitan area, its "city" residents are just a small part of the larger community which isn't metropolitan.

While statistics show high levels of family fragmentation in Richmond, there are many family-strengthening initiatives in the area.

The Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative works to strengthen families in a variety of ways. It hosts a mentoring program at Armstrong High School and facilitates a program for dads in the Richmond jail in partnership with First Things First of Greater Richmond, a smaller, lesser-known community nonprofit whose mission is "strengthening families for a better community."

First Things First provides research-based programs in many areas of the community to serve youth, singles, fathers and couples from all socio-economic backgrounds. Some current programs include teaching healthy relationships for youth in Henrico and Richmond public schools, Beaumont Juvenile Detention Center, and the Peter Paul Development Center.

Just this week, we are working with single mothers to teach about healthy relationships and domestic violence. At eight area hospitals, we offer the weekly Boot Camp for New Dads, and we give dads and kids a chance to bond over free pizza at the monthly All Pro Dad program at Martin's. We also work to support lasting, healthy marriages by offering expert speakers, conferences, curricula and more.

Instead of reducing Richmond to a list of unfaithful cities, let's focus on everything we are doing to strengthen its families —- the cornerstone of a strong society.

Bob Ruthazer
Founder and Program Director
First Things First of Greater Richmond

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