- By Shirley Belcher Contributing Writer
Michael Newsom, fatherhood coordinator of Montgomery County Job and Family Services, loves his life and his job. He sees purpose in his life.
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Newsom has a passion for helping fathers understand the importance of their involvement in the lives of their children.
He resides in Englewood with his wife, Jane, and 16-year-old son, Julian, who is a junior at Northmont High School.
“What prepared me the most for my position were life experiences,” Newsom said. “First, I grew up with a great dad, so I know how important it is.”
Jan. 19 was the third annual We the Fathers of Montgomery County banquet. It brings together dignitaries, such as judges, commissioners, and other politicians, with returning citizens (ex-offenders) and their families. Many of the men having burnt bridges with their families, now had the opportunity to bond with their family over a meal, in a suit that is provided to them through Clothes That Work.
In his early 20s, Newsom was a single dad, helping raise his daughter, Marrisa (Newsom) Foudray, who is now a successful career woman, wife and mother of two children, Preston and Maddox. Marrisa’s husband is Caleb Foudray. They reside in Union.
Born and raised in Xenia and a graduate of Xenia High School, Newsom holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wittenberg University and Masters of Public Administration from Wright State University.
“I started at Job and Family Services in 2000 as a child support supervisor,” Newsom said. “During that time, I spoke to many upset parents, as I took elevated calls and performed community outreach for the agency.
“As one of the few men on our management team, it was just the director and me for a while; I ended up leading our outreach efforts, much of which was to fathers,” he said. The need became apparent for a full-time position, so a Fatherhood coordinator position was created in 2010, and Newsom has been in the position ever since.
His overall duty is to promote positive parenting within Montgomery County by helping fathers navigate the social services system. Many need vital information about child support, parenting time, employment, etc. that will improve their chances of being a better parent. He also educates community partners on the importance of fatherhood and makes it known that he is a resource for them and their clients.
“I do a lot of meaningful work on a daily basis — attending court sessions that determine if dads will be sentenced to jail for failure to pay child support and having Magistrate Greg Scott offer my services as an alternative; linking fathers to the services they need, whether they be legal, employment, or Job and Family Services related; and serving as co-chair of the Supportive Services Committee of the Montgomery County Office of Ex-Offender. However, the most interesting aspect of my work are the events.”
Celebrate Fatherhood Montgomery County is in its seventh year and takes place on the Friday and Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. This event brings over 1,000 people. The attendees gain better understanding of the importance of fatherhood and they gain access to community resources they often did not know existed.
Newsom’s supervisor is Sarah Fields, who runs the child support division. He also reports to Gerri Pegues, head of Human Services Planning and Development. JFS Director Tom Kelley is an internal supports, but much of his work is with community partners: Chief Magistrate Greg Scott of Juvenile Court, the Montgomery County Office of Reentry, and Federal Judge Walter H. Rice, for example. He has no internal subordinates at this time.
“We do our best to link fathers to services as opposed to merely referring them,” said Newsom. A referral is, “call the fatherhood coordinator.” The linkage is: ”Call Mike Newsom at 937-496-7569.”
Newsom said, “My future goal is for Montgomery County to be a community in which children and families thrive because fathers are positively engaged.”