SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – Healthy Families, a program of Square One, hosted a Father’s Day Barbecue for members of the program on Wednesday June 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm at Emerson Wight Park in the South End of Springfield. This event was free for all members of the Healthy Families program, especially dads but moms as well.

“Healthy Families works with first time parents beginning in the prenatal stage and continuing to their child’s third birthday,” according to Liz Szarkowski, Healthy Families Administrative Coordinator. “This year we have been putting stronger emphasis on working with dads because we know that the high level of importance fathers play is sometimes lost in the everyday chaos of work and family. We wanted to honor all the hard work that dads do for their families and we wanted the event to be in the South End to show an example of what a man should be.”

Texas Roadhouse on Cooley Street in Springfield supported Healthy Families by catering the June 17th event. “Texas Roadhouse likes to support organizations that do good for the community,” Szarkowski explains, “so they were quickly on board to help with our event to celebrate dads. So was Springfield Parks and Recreation which is helping us with the space.”

Szarkowski emphasizes that every Healthy Families group meeting has focus on meal time, so a meal to celebrate fathers was a great fit. “At our group meetings meals are served family style so the family unit can sit and focus on one another with no distraction from TVs or phones,” she says. “To encourage a family connection while people enjoy their Texas Roadhouse barbecue, Healthy Families is providing a picnic blanket for every member who attends. It’s one more way we’re helping young moms and dads take a break from the stress of day-to-day life and focus on their family.”

Healthy Families provides home visits and group services for first-time parents under 21 years of age. The program is parent-driven. Families choose their own goals and build in a close working relationship with a home visitor. Both mothers and fathers are encouraged to participate in the program, either individually or together. Healthy Families is funded by the Children’s Trust.