Single Father in Texas Fueled by Faith, Family and Fort Worth

“If somebody came up to me and told me something bad about UpTogether, I would tell them they were lying. I’m a part of this program and I see what they’re doing. It’s helping families like me,” said Vernon, a single father living in Fort Worth, Texas, with three children.

He is passionate about his faith and his community—striving each day to make things around him better.

“I love Fort Worth,” he said before describing the city as one “that can come together when it wants to.” During times of adversity, Vernon says he’s seen his community come together and pick each other up. Knowing the power in his own community, Vernon says he makes a point to have conversations with city counselors and school board members often.

“Everything I do can bring us together by having conversations. Somebody has to step to the plate. That’s what I try to do—step to the plate,” said Vernon.

The willingness to step up and do something for others first took shape for Vernon when he was in sixth grade. Vernon says a fight in his classroom sparked a trust and friendship between him and his teacher, Mr. Whit. That moment turned into acceptance and constant encouragement—just what Vernon needed.

“I was probably one of the first Black men that played hockey for that school, and that’s because of Mr. Whit,” he said. “People like him, they see individuals.” 

The proof is also in his faith. Vernon is an Assistant Pastor and has preached for 21 years. He currently oversees logistics at his church, leads community outreach, and teaches a Sunday School class for young men. 

Though his job at the church is important, his biggest role comes at home—being a protector and provider for his three children. Leading a family of four on $1,006 a month is no easy task in Texas, but Vernon makes it work.

“Being a single father is tough but it’s an enjoyment,” he said. “I’m grateful to be able to say I can take on a role as a positive parent to guide my kids.”

Vernon is quick to admit there are headaches and challenges with his kids, but it’s obvious the love is there and he’s proud to brag about their accomplishments.

“They’re straight-A students in school and in honors classes. My 16-year-old son got accepted into the Honors Society, so I figure I must be doing something right,” said Vernon. 

He learned of UpTogether while volunteering at his children’s school and quickly enrolled in the UpTogether Morningside Fund where he was one of 30 households that received 12 monthly investments of $265. 

“UpTogether was a godsend,” said Vernon. “When I got that first deposit I literally picked up the phone and called them to make sure it wasn’t a hoax. It was a shock to me at first.”

The funds that he received helped him pay for things he was putting off—like getting his car repaired and buying clothes for his kids.

“I get $92 a month for child support for three kids, and $914 for social security. Without it, we couldn’t have survived,” said Vernon. 

Health also factors into Vernon’s fight to show up for his community and family. He has congestive heart failure and COPD. He has survived strokes and heart attacks; he wears a heart monitor and oxygen. He pays for 15 different medications.

“I have good days and I have bad days, but I can truly say all my bad days don’t outweigh the good days,” he shared.

In addition to being a proud dad, working in the church, and reaching out to city counselors, Vernon also serves as a liaison working with local community programs to get youth involved in sports. His goal is to be both a mentor and a friend.

“We don’t have enough role models. When there aren’t any positive role models, our kids fall through the cracks,” he said. “I thank God for all the people I had when I was growing up. [Without them] I probably would’ve been lost in the cracks, too.”

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