​After 24 years of teaching in parochial schools, my husband, Larry, and I retired and moved to the Springfield area.  Our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter live in Willard, so moving to Brookline was ideal.  We were close enough to see each other and yet far enough away that we wouldn’t run into one another every time we went to the store.

Larry and I had discussed ideas of what we would be doing to supplement our income.  We made some plans and God laughed!  Our plans were not His plans! Larry decided to be a part-time school bus driver for the Republic school district.  His part-time changed within the first few months of school--he now has a daily route driving each morning and afternoon!  So much for sleeping in every morning!  He is also a trained Fatherhood Development Curriculum facilitator for Good Dads.  I even got him involved!

​My plans for retirement were to be a substitute teacher.  I loved being a teacher and I love working with kids.  I thought with Springfield Lutheran School, as well as the other parochial and private schools in the area, I would be able to pick and choose when and where I wanted to teach.  My first stop in my quest to be a substitute in Springfield was at Springfield Lutheran School.  To me, this stop was the most logical because of my experience in Lutheran Schools in California, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri.  I thought this born and raised Minnesota girl could spread “Minnesota Nice” to the Springfield Lutheran School.  At SLS I had the pleasure of meeting principal Mr. Paul Baker.  We had a delightful visit and I agreed to send him my contact information.

That was in early August. By mid to late August I had a few sub dates set up with SLS.  These dates were not all meant to be. After church services, Paul Baker mentioned to me several times that his wife Jennifer needed some help at her office. He told me, “She runs a non-profit and could use some help.  I should have her talk to you.”   I said that would be fine.  I would be open to talking to her about helping her out.

Now, if you know Paul Baker, you know that he can be persistent.  If you know Jennifer Baker, you know that she doesn’t like to be pushed into anything.  With Paul’s persuading, Jennifer and I spoke and sent up a time to meet at the Good Dads office.  After talking with Jennifer for about an hour, I was hired as the newest assistant at Good Dads!

​I could end here and be done.  However, there is SO much more to this story!  I have worked at Good Dads for 4 ½ months and I LOVE it!  I have learned so much about the needs of dads and kids.  My own attitudes and opinions have changed as I have gotten to know the dad we serve.   I realize the importance of training facilitators to help men be better dads.  I am excited to compile facilitator manuals and participant binders for the dads.  I enjoy making phone calls to dads reminding them of an upcoming class or checking in with them to see how things are going.  I love hearing the stories when a dad gets to see his child for the first time in a very long time.  I enjoy getting teary-eyed when a dad receives a Christmas gift from us.  I look forward to seeing what a difference love, kindness, and respect can make in dad’s life.

I thought I would be doing the giving as a substitute teacher--I was wrong.  I have received so much more than I could possibly imagine.  My co-workers, Janice and Lisa, are a joy to work with each day.  The camaraderie we share is amazing.  Working for Dr. Baker is such an exciting opportunity.  Her knowledge and insight to the dilemma of fathers in today’s society is second to none.  I am honored to working her. God has placed me where He wants me to be.  His plan is most definitely the best plan.  Who knows, maybe someday I’ll go back to substitute teaching.  But, for now, I’m right where I need to be.

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Rhonda Andersen is involved in curriculum development and case management here at GOOD DADS. She is a wife, mother, and granddaughter. She can be reached at rhonda@gooddads.com.