A Day with Dad Celebration
Day with Dad creates an environment of reconciliation between inmate father and their children.
Modeled after Awana Lifeline’s “Returning Hearts Celebration,” a Day with Dad is a annual, one-day event that unites “children only” with their inmate fathers. This fun, carnival-style atmosphere with inflatables, face painting, games, crafts and food promotes hope, joy, and reconciliation while introducing the children, fathers and everyone involved to the gospel. It’s an opportunity for fathers to spend the day with their children and say, “I’m sorry” and “I love you.” It is a day where the father can share the gospel with their child. A day aimed at reducing a real problem, generational incarceration. Many times, the healing process begins on this day, breaking the power of sin and the cycle of crime.
What A day!!!
On Saturday, August 2, 2014, Catalyst Ministries partnered with St. Mary’s Correctional Center to host West Virginia’s first ever “Day with Dad Celebration.” Since then Salem Correctional Center has begun having a Day with Dad too.
The day begins with a very emotional uniting of father and child. The children sit in the gym bleachers, the fathers wait anxiously behind a curtain. Individually, their names are called and the fathers step from behind the curtain and it is so moving to watch as the children run and jump into their father’s arms. There’s always a lot of happy tears in the gym, staff and volunteers included!
The day is then open for fun and bonding. What a site to see, father\children playing games, getting their faces painted, passing football, playing basketball, eating snow cones and hot dogs, etc., etc.
In the afternoon, everyone gathers on the ground in the middle of the “Prison Yard” to hear about God’s grace and free gift of salvation. Finally, the day ends with some quiet time between father and child, coupled with a balloon launch.
The children always leave elated and worn out, with painted faces, balloons and a memory never to be erased. Every child is also given a Day with Dad T-shirt, backpack and some school supplies.