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Posted on: October 30, 2019

New Healthy Dads specialist sees helping families as 'a calling'

Zach Carter

When Zach Carter with his brother-in-law decided earlier this year to dissolve their local contracting company, for his next job he was looking to focus on something that could be a long-term fit.

Amid sorting through hundreds of postings, he noticed the Health Department’s Healthy Dads Specialist opening kept sticking in his mind.

“The more I thought about It and the mission of the program, this just feels right,” Zach said, “It’s something I knew I could throw myself into. It’s sounds cheesy to say, but it felt like a calling.”

He started on Oct. 1 as the new specialist who will work with Healthy Dads Coordinator Jery Márquez to serve fathers in Douglas County through the program’s comprehensive multi-faceted approach, which includes classes at the Douglas County Jail and on Thursday evenings at the Health Department. The Healthy Dads program is a part of Healthy Families Douglas County and is supported by a fatherhood grant from the Kansas Department of Children and Families.

“Zach brings commitment and passion to the team,” Jery said. “He’s excited to be part of this journey and is open to learn and use the tool to help the fathers we are serving.”

The program aims to help connect fathers in Douglas County with resources and services available to them to improve their lives and their relationships with their children and families, all of which are important factors for improve health outcomes, Jery said.

“By adding Zach to the team, we would be able to make more presence in Douglas County, not just Lawrence but Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton, if is possible,” he said.

Zach lives in Lawrence with his wife and three children — two of whom attend Lawrence High School and the youngest will turn 2 in November. He graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 2003 and has earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Kansas.

As he learns more about the Healthy Dads program and serving the needs of Douglas County fathers, Zach said he is looking to start with small-scale goals, which he believes can have a lasting influence.

“It is just to focus on helping one family at a time, not just to help them now but to help generations of the family who come after them. I feel like not having a father in the household or other challenges is generational, like a disease,” he said. “It just gets passed on and on. If you can help one family end that and pass on to the next generation, that is very important in ending that negative cycle.”