Lia Surprise Squad helping father who's stepping up as role model

(Western Mass News photo)

A local dad is stepping up as a role model for his son and stepchildren with the help of fathering classes at Enlace de Familias.

Ahead of father's day, our Lia Auto Group Surprise Squad is honoring him for his accomplishments.

"If it wasn't for my son turning my life around, I'd probably be down in the gutters. My son's the reason why I work so hard," said Jay Gonzalez of West Springfield.

Gonzalez, 23, a caring father to one-and-a-half year old Xavien, but that wasn't always the case.

"I was having trouble with the parenting aspect. I messed up when my son was first born," Gonzalez explained.

In an effort to become a better father, last fall, Gonzalez joined the Nurturing Father's program offered at Enlace de Familias in Holyoke.

"This is a free program for anyone trying to better their skills as a father," said Roy Lichtenstein with Enlace de Familias.

Lichtenstein told Western Mass News that it's an intense 15 week course

"It talks about who your father is, or lack of who your father was, problem solving, things we weren't educated on," Lichtenstein explained.

Gonzalez added, "I didn't have a father myself. I grew up with my mom."

Gonzalez's less-than-fortunate childhood motivates him to be a better parent.

"Your positive attention and recognition are a great gift to your sons and daughters," Gonzalez said.

Working full-time as a roofer, making time for weekly classes, homework, and applying what he's learned in the program at home with his son and three step-kids really makes Gonzalez stand out

"His commitment to the kids, but wanting to be there reading to them, tucking them in at night, and saying I love you," Lichtenstein noted.

Gonzalez said, "The fact I'm able to do that for my kids and my stepkids means a lot to me, it really does."

His hard work was not going un-noticed.

We surprised Gonzalez with new work boots and socks to go with them.

"Most of my socks have holes in them, so I definitely need these a lot," Gonzalez said.

We also surprised him with a new tool belt for work...and something for the family: season passes to Six Flags New England.

A great way to celebrate Father's Day.

"This is gonna be not my, not my first Father's Day, but my first real Father's Day. I didn't have my son at first for my first Father's Day, but I'll definitely be with him with this Father's Day coming up...It means the world to me. It means everything. That's my pride and joy to me," Gonzalez aid.

Happy Father's Day from all of us at Western Mass News.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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