By Alisha Woodall
FirstLook stays open late until 8:00 p.m. every Tuesday to accommodate clients who work or need an appointment later in the evening. Tuesday evenings have become a great opportunity to see more clients who are fathers.
FirstLook has been blessed to have two dedicated male volunteers commit to staying the entire 10.5-hour day from 9:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Buddy Rigotti is Firstlook’s male client coordinator, and Hugh Reynolds is its male spiritual mentor. Together, they make a great team as they impact and encourage many men in their irreplaceable role as fathers.
One client in particular, Sampson, was the father of a 3-year-old daughter. He came to FirstLook for parenting classes. Buddy and Hugh conducted four private class sessions with him over the course of a month or two.
At first, Sampson was understandably frustrated that he had to be there. He felt he had been unjustly accused and convicted for something that harmed his daughter. However, he professed that he loved his daughter dearly and would never want any harm to come to her.
As he progressed through the weekly classes, Sampon became much more trusting of Buddy and Hugh. He often used them as a sounding board, expressing his frustrations about the whole situation with his daughter. The FirstLook guides sympathized with him, and encouraged him to complete the protocol set forth by CPS, no matter how unjust it seemed.
Sampson was a natural fighter (in more ways than one), so Buddy and Hugh encouraged him to continue fighting for his daughter by going along with the steps required by CPS. After one of the classes, Sampson noticed a photo on Hugh’s computer desktop. It was a recent picture taken of him with his wife and kids. He stopped and looked at the photo, then looked at Hugh and asked why he was there.
“What do you mean?” Hugh asked.
Sampson wanted to know why Hugh would leave his family on a Tuesday night to volunteer to be there with him to help him get his daughter back. Hugh told him God had blessed him with a beautiful family of his own, as well as the flexibility in his schedule to be there. Hugh told Sampson he wanted to pass that blessing along to him and others so they could experience God’s blessing of a healthy family, as well.
It was clear that Sampson was appreciative of the time Buddy and Hugh spent with him, but he was still frustrated he had to take a parenting class.
Sampson finished his required coursework at FirstLook so Buddy and Hugh threw him a “graduation” party at the end of the last class. Buddy, Hugh, and Sampson enjoyed some delicious Mexican food while discussing what they had learned about life and family.
When all was said and done, Sampson had come in as a client … but left as a friend. The trio took pictures to remember their short time together.
Buddy tried following up with Sampson a couple weeks later to see if he was still completing the CPS requirements, but his phone was out of service. Sampson had always told the men that if they called and he didn’t answer or call back, it probably meant he was back in prison.
Later, the men learned that CPS followed up with FirstLook to obtain proof of Sampson’s completed coursework.
The entire FirstLook staff was grateful for the opportunity to connect with Sampson and hopeful that he continued to follow protocol to be reunited with his daughter.
Stories like Sampson’s continue to illustrate the positive impact FirstLook has on its diverse array of clients.
Note: This is a true FirstLook story. Only the names have been changed to protect client identities.
FirstLook is leading Ellis County to embrace life by promoting best sexual health practices and providing family support in the name of Jesus Christ. We focus on real lives, real stories, and real impacts being made thanks to the positive, life-affirming alternatives to abortion we offer to women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy. Learn how you can be part of our Real Lives campaign at https://friendsoffirstlook.org/reallives/.