Rev. Walter Amir Jones Jr. is associate minister at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and executive director of his own nonprofit, Fathers Who Care. The group was born from U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis’ Task Force on Fathers, Families and Public Policy. 

Fathers Who Care’s stated goals are to advocate, educate and empower men, dispel negative myths about Black fathers, and empower students to be future leaders. The group puts on men’s wellness expos, college tours, mentoring, violence prevention and parent skills workshops, and Jones hosts a CAN-TV Channel 21 youth show.  

Among other community roles, Jones is the convener of the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders, promoting a safe and drug free community.  After his nonprofti’s 15th anniversary celebration Nov. 17 at Columbus Park Refectory, where Rev. Jones honored a number of community leaders, Jones spoke about his passion.  

I want to see better things happen in our community. Better lives for these babies. Engaging, enlightening and empowering our young people. A community working together for the good of all of us.

Anybody like me, born and raised on the West Side, can’t help but be impacted by all that’s gone on. You feel it. I wanted to do something to help the least of these. My dad passed of natural causes when I was 14. I felt his absence — just like the kids who have no fathers feel something missing. I was blessed to have men who would say things to help me, and I’ve always tried to act as a surrogate father to youth because I know what it feels like to be without a father.  

You get discouraged. Sometimes you have an event, and the weather’s not nice. But the people who are supposed to be there show up, and that’s what matters.

You have to do with very little funding. The bigger organizations just get bigger while the small ones continue to beg them for money.  I beg anybody who will listen. Rob Peter to pay Paul. Get money for one thing and stretch it to pay for something additional.

But I can’t just talk about something and not do it. It’s worth it when you see the young people’s eyes light up when you offer them a new opportunity.

— Bonni McKeown