A New York nonprofit held a Father’s Day Dance Friday night to help formerly incarcerated fathers in the Bronx reconnect with their kids.
The Osborne Association launched a Fatherhood Initiative that helps incarcerated parents and ex-cons reestablish relationships with their children. About 100,000 children in New York have a parent in jail, according Osborne’s workforce intensive coordinator Ronald Day.
Raymond Cowen, who spent nine of the last 10 Father’s Days serving two prison sentences, spent Friday night dancing with his daughters, Jadoiray, 5, and Raymonii, 10.
“I’m in the process of becoming a better person,” said Cowen, 50, told the New York Daily News. “I just feel grateful and blessed to be a part of the program. And to be a part of my children’s lives.”
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Cowen served time for drug related charges, according to DNAinfo.
“I’ve had chances in the past,” he said. “But in the past I wasn’t able to make the transition to being a contributor to my community or to my family.”
"This was ideal for me because one of my daughters had a daddy-daughter dance that I missed when I was incarcerated, and I really felt bad about that," he said.
"They don’t know me," he said. "I had to introduce myself all over, and I had to take time for them to get comfortable with me, comfortable with hugging me, giving me kisses."
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Cowen has 10 kids and most of them are grown now. He now has a custodial job and feels he has turned his life around
“Now that they see their father is working, they look up to me,” he said. “I’m actively involved in their lives finally.”
Osborne’s Fatherhood Initiative provides counseling, conflict resolution training and parenting workshops, as well as job training, to more than 100 fathers each year.
“Being able to just spend time with your children,” Cowen said. “That’s what it’s all about.”