A decade after deciding to take a different path in life, Joseph Williams is helping other dads navigate the world of parenthood.
Ten years ago, Williams, a father of six from Chicago, served nine months in prison for possession of a stolen vehicle. Upon his release, he dedicated himself to doing positive things in the community, including volunteering at his children's school. One day, he was asked to read a book to his daughter's class, and he was such a hit that the teacher and students asked him to return. "With me starting to do that, other fathers started to come in," Williams told Today. "They were like, 'Hey, what's going on? Can we be a part of this? Can we join?' I was like, 'Absolutely.'"
This inspired Williams to launch the Mr. Dad's Father's Club, an organization that offers enriching activities for kids on Chicago's South Side, as well as support for dads. There are now more than 150 fathers in the group, and they participate in reading and community outreach events, as well as a weekly fatherhood support group. Their goal is to build a community center and library that will offer resources to parents and kids alike.
Williams is also an author, writing a book called My Daddy Is Me, a phrase that his daughter once said. The book is about the different jobs parents can have, featuring Black and brown characters. "For Black and brown children, it's good to have someone who looks like us," Williams told Today.