COLUMBUS, Ga.- Thursday night, 11 men from the Muscogee County Jail had their names called to receive a diploma for successfully completing the Fatherhood Program. This program helps men become a role model for their kids and other things. Part of the curriculum is the Simple Steps program where every Thursday, representatives from the Columbus Library come and talk to the men about the values of reading to kids.
One of the men who graduated tonight was Justin Willis. His 6-year-old niece Cami was in the audience. The last time she saw him was five months ago when he was arrested. “I was supposed to be her rock,” Willis said. “She came to us cause we’re supposed to be the responsible ones, the ones she can depend on and just knowing she saw me getting taken out of her life again and that this might be the time that I come in and I don’t get to come out for a long time.”
Once the ceremony was complete, Justin had the chance to read with Cami. He taught her how to read prior to being arrested months ago. He says being able to see her almost made him cry. “The best way I can describe it is being five years old and walking downstairs on Christmas and the bike you’ve asked for all year being there up under the tree,” Willis said.
Willis added that he is looking forward to the day where he will be able to spend time with Cami without the walls of the jail. He says there is a lot of making up to do. He went on to say that it is something special to have someone love you as much as Cami does. “She doesn’t see the bad in me,”Willis said. “She doesn’t see the person stealing cars and things like that. She sees me. If that can’t be inspiration for me to want to do right when I get home, then I’m a lost cause. Seeing her tonight makes me want to do right.”
The next participants in the Fatherhood Program will be chosen in the coming weeks.