Despite growing up without a father himself, Juan Romero says he has stayed close to his 3-year-old daughter so she could have the one special thing he did not have: a father.
"I had to teach myself like I taught myself how to be a man -- without a father. My mother couldn't teach me half the things I know now, so I had to teach myself," said Romero.
Romero is getting a lot of fatherly advice in a program called Project Fatherhood. He attends weekly meetings in his community at the Jordan Downs Recreation Center.
"Showing me how to be a better father, get a job, provide for my family, so it's teaching me a lot," said Romero.
Debois Sims's 7-year-old twin sons are the youngest of his nine children. Sims says although he spends a lot of time with his twins, he failed as a father with his first seven kids.
Sims credits Project Fatherhood for helping him to weather the ups and downs of taking the responsibilty to be a father.
Pastor Michael Cummings says he wants everyone in the program to understand being a father is a lifetime commitment.
"There's a lot of them growing up without fathers, that's why Project Fatherhood is so important for us to mentor, to show them the way to go to make sure that they keep the family together," said Cummings.
The program started in October. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles helps to fund it through federal grants.
John King, director of planning and intergovernmental affairs with the Housing Authority, loves the program.
"The program has been very successful because what we've seen is dads coming back to with reports saying how they are taking more of an active role with their children," said King.
Project Fatherhood organizers say the door is open to any struggling man who wants to learn to be a better father.
Contact Project Fatherhood at (213) 385 5100, extension 1861, or go to http://www.childrensinstitute.org.