SUMTER, S.C. — Tuesday was a dreary day in Sumter, but for Maurice Miller, days have never felt so bright.
With the help of the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, Miller has been able to receive resources and help during the pandemic.
He was raised in Columbus, Ohio, and things were much different back then.
“We grew up poor… and I was in and out of jail trying to help my mom take care of my brother and my sister,” Miller said. “My dad left. My mom was like, you the man…. I was like 9…. I was just learning how to be like what everybody else is, like what you see…. I’d go to jail, bring it home like this is what you have to do. You got to rob, steal, whatever you got to do to make it. Then I met her, my fiancé. She really changed me.”
The two moved to South Carolina last summer with his two boys. At the time, they were homeless but leaning on loved ones in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Went through some stuff since I moved down here, but I got involved in this program and they’ve been helping me along the way,” Miller said.
Despite sometimes remote, limited and socially distanced, the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition has continued efforts throughout the pandemic to help dads like Miller.
The organization provides free education, employment, food and counseling services, among other things, to get dads back on their feet.
In Sumter, leaders say they’ve seen an increased need for food, housing and mental health services due to the coronavirus.
Terrence Whitfield leads the Sumter office.
“Maurice is not an isolated story. It happens every day in America. It happens every day in Sumter,” Whitfield said. “Food, that’s been a big need, housing…, clothing, mental health... just being able to mediate between couples. There’s so much stuff that’s needed now because of COVID… we provide all those resources right here in our office.”
Miller said it’s been a journey, but things are looking up.
“We just found a place, we got a car, we’re working. We’re in the process of getting back to living our life,” Miller said. “I don’t know what it is about it. You go through a storm, then after the storm, it’s like light. After the bad something good happens.”
To learn more about the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition and how to get involved visit their website here.