Fathers’ UpLift Featured on Boston 25 News
One of our fathers and Community Ambassadors, Ben Diaz, reached out to a local news channel to share his story and shed light on our efforts to reconnect fathers to their children. His advocacy and persistence have resulted in us being featured on Boston 25 News. Ben shared his story and encouraged men in the community to reach out for help if they are in need. You can watch the entire clip by clicking here.
To learn more about Ambassador Ben’s journey, read his incredible story below.
Ben’s Story: The Power of Peer Support
What does it mean to be “stuck,” and how do we get free? This question is an experience familiar to many at Fathers’ UpLift, including Ben Diaz, a Fathers’ Uplift Ambassador. In an interview with Fathers’ UpLift Coach Leonard Tshitenge on the podcast AFAR (Absent For a Reason), Ben describes a time in his life when he was paralyzed by anger and grief.
“I was in such fog that I couldn’t concentrate on anything,” Ben relates, “I got into three car accidents, totaling three cars, I lost five jobs, I couldn’t focus on what I needed to do.” The depression Ben was experiencing was all-encompassing, stemming from the recent estrangement from his daughter due to issues with her mother. This separation was painful. Not only was Ben split from his partner, but she had moved on quickly with a new relationship.
Born prematurely, Ben’s daughter was in the hospital and he describes being forced from the premises by security and having to navigate his child’s mother’s new partner. “I didn’t know how to dig myself out of this hole I found myself in,” Ben states, “it was a depression hole, I was blaming myself for everything, I was getting into fights with the new man, I was making everything worse.” Ben’s situation escalated from there. He was stuck in a place of anger and pain. “My depression wouldn’t let me move forward and I was blindfolded by the hate and the rage,” he describes.
Things took a turn when Ben lost his own father. Ben describes his father as a man who never gave up and believed in the power of laughter. He tried to help mediate between Ben and his child’s mother, but Ben states, “I wasn’t ready for people to help me.”
What shifted was when Ben joined Fathers’ Uplift and began to see a clinical social worker. “I was homeless, I was living in my car, I couldn’t see my daughter for months at a time and every time I tried to do something right it backfired on me.”
He began to talk openly about not only what was currently happening, but exploring how he got there. One of the first things Ben was able to realize was his own accountability. “I realized I was controlling the fire,” He says “I kept adding fuel and making it bigger and bigger.”
Ben slowly began to realize that getting to the finish line was going to take hard work. “Our thoughts allow us to keep getting stuck,” Ben acknowledges, “With my therapist, I had an image of what being a father looks like, I had a picture of it. But there is no picture that is going to be perfect, behind the scenes you don’t know what’s going on.”
Through the help of his clinician, he was able to set concrete goals and utilize tools for when things got rough. “Making a memory board, putting things in writing, and working on getting my apartment where my daughter could do overnight,” Ben describes “I put it out in the universe and I made it a reality, I focused myself.”
What kept Ben pushing? The answer is clear: “My daughter,” He states. “I couldn’t live my life letting her call some other man ‘father.’” Ben acknowledges that he is still in battle. “I’m not bringing in anger or frustration and instead focusing on what really matters, which is my daughter, my housing, my job, waking up in the morning and letting myself smile. You have to focus on what you can control.”
Now, things look differently for Ben. Currently, he serves as a Fathers’ UpLift Ambassador. Fathers’ UpLift, already unique in its mission, believes so strongly in the power and strength of its constituents that it has created a fellowship that allows those who have gone through the program to give back. Launched in 2019, the Fathers’ UpLift Ambassador Fellowship Program is a team of Fathers who have successfully completed Father’s UpLift programs and have demonstrated their ability to lead, challenge, and support other fathers in similar predicaments. Ambassadors are not just extra peer support, they are invaluable members of the team, working in partnership to provide guidance and empowerment. The significance of this role was not lost on Ben. “At the end of the day, nothing is more rewarding than helping a fellow man, a fellow father,” Ben states, “to help someone not make the same mistakes that I made.”
Ben experienced first hand the power of hearing from a peer who had gone through similar challenges, “My life would have been different if I had the peer support that I am doing now,” Ben acknowledges, “I think about how different things might have been.” Ben’s pride extends beyond just helping others, he relates how his daughter asks him what he does and how he is able to tell her that he is making an impact on the lives of others. “It’s rewarding in so many different ways, to tell my daughter that I’m helping out and that I’m an ambassador,” he says.
This drive galvanizes Ben, “I was a lot worse three years ago, I was a lot worse 6 months ago,” He relates. “By not giving up on the little things now, I know that in the future the big things are coming. I have that faith.”
Ben has a saying he uses for himself and that he shares with other fathers: “It’s not about winning the battle, it’s about winning the war.” For Ben and many of our fathers, the fight doesn’t stop but working in partnership can shorten the steps to winning the war.
Thank you for tuning in.