South Seattle’s DADS unites men in fatherhood and brotherhood

Fathers find faith, advice, support and community connections at Divine Alternatives for Dads Services, or DADS.

Will Hughes had a history of substance abuse and incarceration when he walked in the red door of the office on Rainier Avenue South. He’d heard folks there could help him get visitation with his children.

Zakary Fike was “broke, busted and living in a trailer” when he sought out the South Seattle nonprofit for help with a parenting plan for his then 3- and 5-year-old boys.

John Hamer, who’d previously worked for a newspaper and run the Washington News Council, was looking for a place to share his communication skills when he heard the founders of Divine Alternatives for Dads Services, or DADS, speak at an annual banquet.

For more information

Divine Alternatives for Dads Services

5709 Rainier Ave S., Seattle, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 206-722-3137 or

[email protected]

All three found what they were looking for at the nondenominational, faith-based agency.

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But to their surprise, they also found some things they had not been looking for: healing, forgiveness, love and a community that transcends age, race, class and even political leanings. Each Wednesday morning and Thursday evening, a group of 25 to 50 men from ages 17 to 90 attend the support group, where they talk about their lives, their struggles, their efforts to know God and be better men.

“We didn’t set out to do a big thing,” said Marvin Charles, 61, who started the organization with his wife, Jeanett Charles, 50, almost two decades ago after they got clean and sober and figured out — by themselves mostly — how to meet the court’s legal requirements and reclaim their children from Child Protective Services (CPS).

Their organization — which runs on donations and does not charge clients — is predicated on the idea that fathers are important…

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