“Show me a neighborhood where fathers are involved, and I will show you a neighborhood that is thriving.” Since the opening of Alpha Men’s Center in June of 2021, this quote has become a rally cry for Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR). According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, children growing up without a father or father figure in the home are at much greater risk of adverse outcomes than those who have a stable father presence in their lives. In short, dads count! 

Alpha Grand Rapids is pioneering a new form of fatherhood ministry – becoming the first pregnancy care center (PCC) in the nation with a stand-alone building to serve fathers. While this venture is only two years old, many of the approaches and concepts we are taking are changing the game in the pregnancy care movement. Here’s how:

A Voice That Matters

To begin, we must first understand the significance of ministry to men within pregnancy centers. Once a foreign concept, there are now PCC fatherhood ministries popping up all around the United States! A Care Net 2021 study shows that in an unplanned pregnancy, the father of the baby is the most influential voice in a woman’s decision regarding the pregnancy and is also the first person she discusses it with. However, when the researchers took a survey of 1,000 post-abortive men it revealed that 31% did not give any advice at all and 61% were ready “to support her either way.” Pregnancy care centers are crucial in making dads feel welcome, included, and equally important in the decision about their unborn child. 

At the grand opening of Alpha Men’s Center, a local news station interviewed one of our fathers. This father explained how important it was for men to “have a place where we can be a dad together.” While AGR partners with dozens of PCCs that are doing amazing work with dads, a building dedicated strictly to fatherhood creates a culture that may not necessarily be available everywhere. Alpha Men’s Center has several signature programs to help men grow as partners, fathers, and community leaders. 


The Step Up Program provides dads with the opportunity to meet regularly with a trained volunteer – called a coach – in a one-on-one setting. Appointments are one hour long and may include conversations centered around parenting, health, relationships, and faith to name a few. Our most recent addition to our offerings in this area is Care Net’s Doctor Dad® Course. 

Fatherhood Groups

I’ve heard it said that men will often do life shoulder to shoulder, but rarely face to face. We may hang out and talk over a meal or a game, but rarely do deep, rich, and authentic conversations about life come up. However, at Alpha Men’s Center, we provide a space for men to do just that. Over the past year, we have seen an average of five to eight men each week in AGR’s Fatherhood  Groups. A home-cooked meal is provided by an amazing volunteer, the fathers read a devotional during dinner, then dive into relevant curriculum to help them grow as fathers, husbands, and individuals. One father shared, “What’s different about Alpha Men’s Center is that there are guys here who really care and they’re willing to share their life experiences with me so I can learn how to be a better dad.”

Job Skills Training

Using the internationally recognized Jobs for Life program, we launched this class in the fall of 2022. Eight men graduated that year. According to Jobs for Life, “nothing attacks one’s dignity like a lack of work.” When individuals (and communities) are burdened by unemployment or unfulfilling jobs, the fallout may include poverty, domestic violence, depression/suicide, and unplanned pregnancies. Jobs for Life equips students with the soft skills they need to thrive in their careers and “flip the script” on unemployment. 

Celebrating Dads

Lastly, Alpha Men’s Center recognizes the importance of quality father-child time. It was Mr. Rogers who said, “Play is the work of childhood.” Having a space to host events of our own opens numerous opportunities to capitalize on these moments. Over the past two years, we have held a father-child Science Night, a Craft Day, annual Father’s Day BBQs, and Thanksgiving dinners. 

Simply Having a Building for Fathers Does Not Guarantee Generational Change

In the two and a half years since the Men’s Center opened, we have been privileged to walk alongside 314 dads through 2,400 visits. Men have chosen life for their unborn children alongside their partners, accepted Christ, learned new life skills, and found a supportive community as they work through struggles such as mental health issues or substance abuse. Recently, AGR submitted a request to Child Protective Services (CPS) asking for statistics on child abuse and neglect in the 49507- zip code since 2021, when Alpha Men’s Center first opened. The hope is that this number will decrease over time as AGR equips men to be stable, kind fathers to their children. This is one of the ways we hope to track the impact we are having in Grand Rapids.

In this same vein, I can tell you that we do have a father in our program who came to Alpha Men’s Center due to a CPS case. After three weeks his case was closed. While he could have walked away then, instead, he has continued to meet with his coach every month for over two years! He is currently engaged to the mother of his children, has completed a faith-based marriage curriculum, and is learning daily what it means to be a good dad. That’s how we do it: one father, one family, one neighborhood at a time. 



[1] /mens-survey

[2]  https://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistic.

[3] https://jobsforlife.org/


Matt Haviland is the Men’s Center Director for Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR) which operates two centers: Alpha Women’s Center and Alpha Men’s Center. He is married to his amazing wife, Christy, and is the father of a wonderful teenage daughter. He and Christy are currently in the adoption process as well. Matt has been working with fathers since 2008 through a variety of organizations and partnerships. He joined the team at Alpha Grand Rapids at the beginning of 2021 shortly before the new Men’s Center facility was completed and opened as one of the first standalone buildings solely serving fathers in the United States. As Men’s Center Director, Matt empowers staff members and volunteers to walk alongside fathers and equip them to be the best man, partner, and father possible. He is deeply passionate about discipling men and understands how valuable fathers are to their families and communities. A native of Grand Rapids, MI, Matt enjoys family time, reading, playing golf, and almost all outdoor recreation.