cory-familyMy name is Cory Sangster, born in Chicago, but raised in Rockford, Illinois. I am 22 years old, and a proud father of two daughters, a 5 year old and a 3 month old. I became a father t the young age of 16.

Being a single teen father brought many challenges. I put a lot of effort to stay in a relationship with my oldest child’s mother, but our relationship was not healthy which made it very difficult for us to stay together. By the time I was 17, I gained full custody of my oldest daughter. She currently has little to no contact with her mother. I dropped out of school at 18 years old and began working to provide for my daughter. I had my own apartment and car, and things were going well. Then my life took a turn for the worst. I made some bad decisions, which landed me in jail. I also had another child to provide for.

I was hurt about losing everything that i work so hard for. After serving a short period of time in jail, I moved back to my mom’s house. While with my mom, I began to think about the changes I needed to make in order to make my situation better. One day, while meeting with my probation officer, I saw a brochure that said “Rockford MELD.” After reading the brochure, I decided to call and find out what the program offered. When I called MELD, I spoke with Darius Smith. He explained the MELD program and the MELD Fatherhood Initiative. He discussed program expectations and his expectations of me taking responsibility for my life.

After speaking to Darius I was optimistic about my future and was prepared to make the necessary changes to become a better person. Darius offered to be my mentor, and when I accepted his offer, my life hasn’t been the same since. Darius helped me enroll in the Goodwill Industries GED program. While attending the program I made student of the week and I passed the pre-GED tests with the highest score in my class. My mentor also enrolled me into the MELD Young Dads weekly groups, programs that provide information and support to assist young fathers between the ages of 13 and 25 in the community, as well as in the high schools. The groups meet once a week to share experiences, become friends and offer support. In groups, my mentor discusses topics such as father involvement, healthy relationships, child support, and ways to become a successful man. My goal once I complete my GED, is to continue my education and become a Certified Nursing Assistant. I am forever grateful to Rockford MELD program and Fatherhood Initiative.

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