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For Families

Dad 2 Dads

Safe spaces for Fathers and Father figures to develop their critical role within the family unit.
Safe spaces for Fathers and Father figures to develop their critical role within the family unit.

Our Program

What We Do

The Dad 2 Dads initiative is part of The Up Center’s Maternal Health Hub’s Dad Engagement Services, which provides a compilation of services that respond effectively to the maternal health needs of mothers and families. It offers safe spaces for Fathers and Father figures to develop their critical role within the family unit by providing community-based support to navigate systems and resources, and to address overall wellness that impacts family functioning. Participants may access services in their home, via telehealth, or with hybrid delivery.

Services are free and delivered by professional, trained staff with lived, trauma informed, and person-centered experience and are based on the following goals:

  • Increased awareness around fathers’ engagement, maternal health outcomes and child development.
  • Promote positive parent-child interaction.
  • Increased knowledge and skills to participate in birth preparation and provide advocacy during labor and delivery.
  • Promote skills to manage mental health needs and build coping strategies.

Our Clients

Fathers and father figures who reside in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, or Virginia Beach, regardless of biological relation to or current status in the life of a child, are invited and encouraged to participate in any of the following components of service delivery that align with their individual needs or interests:

  • Dads Under Construction: group for expecting and new fathers
  • Dad 2 Dads: group for fathers and father figures
  • Coach’s Corner: 1-to-1 parent coaching and community resource connections

What Makes Us Different:

Traditional programs solely focus on the mother-child relationship. Our program acknowledges the value fathers bring to their families. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, a child’s overall well-being improves with the presence of a father (fatherhood.org). This father-centered approach to service delivery allows our program to meet fathers where they are, help them understand their critical role, provide support, and create opportunities for them to be present. Our trained staff possess the skills, credentials, lived and professional experience to successfully facilitate and maintain individual and group connections. Because of our work with fathers, families will thrive.

Interested?

Join one of our virtual groups:


  • Dads Under Construction: Group for expecting and new dads, 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, 6p – 7:30p (registration required)
  • Dad 2 Dads: Group for all fathers and father figures, 2nd & 4th Mondays, 6p – 7:30p (registration required)

Take the Dad 2 Dads Survey to register or make a referral!

Meet the Team

Sabrina Jenkins

Sabrina Jenkins, BS, CLC

Parent Educator Supervisor

Sabrina serves as Parent Educator Supervisor for Parents as Teachers and Dad Engagement. She is a graduate of Old Dominion University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. She has passionately delivered child development education, family support and advocacy to families across Hampton Roads since 2013. In her spare time, Sabrina enjoys quality time with her family and cooking tasty meals.

James Butts

Dad Engagement Specialist

James serves as a Dad Engagement Specialist for Dad Engagement Services. He is a graduate of Liberty University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology: Crisis Counseling. He has passionately worked in the community delivering child development education, family support and advocacy to families across Hampton Roads since 2007. In his spare time, James enjoys coaching, spending time with family and exercising.

Gemayl Johnson

Dad Engagement Specialist

Gemayl “Mel” Johnson is a resident of Portsmouth VA, graduate of Churchland High School and a former Division 1 basketball player who spent a year playing professional basketball in Iceland. He earned a Business Management A.A. Degree from Montgomery College Tacoma Park/Silver Springs and received a bachelor’s degree from Elizabeth City State University, majoring in Sports Management and Business Marketing with a minor in Psychology. He has a passion for inspiring and helping others overcome and handle life situations. He is a Human Services Professional with over 14 years of experience serving communities as a Special Education Teacher, QMHP A-C, Vocational Counselor, member of the Wounded Warriors Project, Independent Living Program Director and Life Skills Coach to name a few. Mel believes that we are put on this earth to help those in need as we progress in life. He lives by the slogan, “Embrace the journey.” The journey is life and everything that comes with it.

Register Here

To submit an application to become a mentor please complete the information below:

Contact Us

Location: 1805 Airline Blvd, Portsmouth, VA 23707

Phone: (757) 337-3429

Email: dads@theupcenter.org

How You Can Help

Children who enter our Foster Care program often need clothing, diapers, formula, books, suitcases, etc. At The Up Center, we ensure that every child has access to NEW essential items purchased especially for them. To see a list of items frequently requested by families, including items for children, please visit our Amazon Wish List

During the back to school season, many children need school supplies, backpacks, coats, shoes, etc. During the holidays, we purchase gifts, toys and books for children in our program and host an Annual Holiday Party. If you would like to help our team support foster children in our care, please email us at development@theupcenter.org or make a donation to The Up Center here.

Our Mission

We are committed to partnering with children, families, and communities to improve lives and outcomes through prevention, intervention, and support services.