Program honors single father

The Western Maryland Regional Conference praised the efforts of Stephen Vincent Dillinger in raising this 13-year-old son

The Western Maryland Regional Conference praised the efforts of Stephen Vincent Dillinger in raising this 13-year-old son

June 24, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

Stephen Vincent Dillinger, who grew up in foster homes, was honored Friday at the Western Maryland Regional Fatherhood Conference in Hagerstown for the good job he is doing raising his son.

Dillinger, a single father, lives with his son, Julius, 13, in a Hagerstown public housing complex. His daughters, 14 and 9, live with their mother in Hagerstown. He also has a 23-year-old son.

Dillinger, 46, was given a Governor's Citation during the conference for being a good father to his son.

About 200 people attended the conference, which brought together organizations from Carroll, Washington, Allegany and Frederick counties that provide programs for fathers. It also drew members of the public interested in finding out more about the programs.


It is the second year of the event.

About 25 fathers attended the program, intended to educate the public on the importance of fathers in the lives of their children.

Dillinger said his parents were of mixed race - one white, one black - and that was not acceptable in the 1950s when he was born. As a result, he was raised in foster homes, mostly in Pennsylvania, he said.

Being without a parent's upbringing makes the recognition of his work as a father even more special, he said.

"It means a lot to me, where I come from and where I am today," he said.

He received the award because "they know I'm active in my son's life," he said. "That is what life is all about - family."

Dillinger said he has used programs offered by the Washington County Department of Social Service and the Community Action Council.

He applauded the conference's idea of bringing organizations together to compare notes and determine how they can work more cooperatively.

Tyrone Stokes of Baltimore brought his 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter to the conference. They spend most of their time with the mother, from whom he is divorced, he said.

He brought his children to the event because he wanted to show them that government agencies agree with him that the job of a father is important, he said.

Allan Wiggins of Falling Waters, W.Va., disagrees with the belief of many people that men can't raise children as well as women. He brought his 17-month-old daughter, whom he is raising alone, to the conference where he hoped to learn about programs available for fathers.

"I think it is wonderful. It is a step in the right direction," he said.

There were presentations at the conference by experts on fatherhood programs, children's rights, mental health issues and other topics.

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