Real Fatherhood: Joseph Williams, Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club Leads a Movement

“Fatherhood saved my life.” 

Joseph Williams stated this unequivocally when recalling how he went from being a young man finding his way to becoming one of our city’s biggest champions for fatherhood. 

It’s because of Williams and his organization, Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club, that dozens of other men have been able to achieve a similar transformation.

The story of this innovative organization begins with a book or more specifically, an assignment that Williams had undertaken at his kid’s school. 

Humble Beginnings 

A brush with the law kept Williams from being in his children’s lives for a brief time. But after leaving those troubles behind, Williams started volunteering at Beasley Academic Center, where his children attended.

His initial role involved lunchroom duty and hallway monitoring. One day, when a teacher needed help in the classroom, Williams offered to assist. He picked up a book and read it to the class. 

It was a simple act that ignited a passion that would shape his future.

“Reading that book to the class changed my life forever, Williams said.  “I read the book, the class loved it, and from that reading, I started coming in weekly just doing readings with the children to the point other fathers started coming to the school.”

He also faced periods of homelessness, sleeping in his car and washing up in public bathrooms while still showing up to read to children with a smile. Despite these hardships, his commitment to his mission never wavered.

What started as a small effort grew into a movement with 30 dads reading to children every Monday. Then Williams hosted an event at the school that brought out 150 dads who participated. 

The Birth of Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club

The overwhelming response and the positive impact on children led Williams to formalize his efforts. 

In 2017, he founded Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club out of a desire to boost children’s confidence and self-esteem through literacy activities. The organization’s success was evident as Beasley Academic Center improved from a level two to a level one school, with noticeable changes in student behavior and academic performance.

By then, Williams’ organization focused on boosting children’s social-emotional skills, teaching them about confidence, self-esteem and their intrinsic worth.

“We saw children with behavior issues literally start to respond differently,” he said.  

Expanding the Mission

Joseph Williams, the Mr. Dad mascot and Mayor Brandon Johnson

Joseph Williams, the Mr. Dad mascot and Mayor Brandon Johnson (Credit: Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club, Facebook).

Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club’s mission expanded to include mentoring and fatherhood support. The organization now serves children from pre-K to 12th grade, offering one-on-one and group mentoring, financial literacy, civic engagement, and anti-bullying education. Additionally, the club provides support for fathers, helping them re-engage with their families and communities.

“We’re grabbing them fathers, and we are building them,” Williams said, “We do resume building with them, helping them get back in school.”

The impact of Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club extends beyond the classroom. Williams has built partnerships with organizations like Kennedy King College, the Chicago Sky, and My Brother’s Keeper, among others. These collaborations have provided resources and opportunities for fathers and children alike.

“One of our fathers just graduated from Chicago State with his Bachelor’s degree,” he said. 

Looking Ahead

As Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club continues to grow, Williams remains focused on his goal of creating lasting change in the community. He envisions having Mr. Dad’s Father’s Clubs in more schools in the Chicagoland area and eventually taking his movement to other states. 

Another goal of his is to build a community center where his students can do homework and engage in creative activities like theater. 

But ultimately, it’s about paying that transformation forward, the kind that once saved him.  

“God saved me. And if there ain’t nothing I’m gonna do before I leave this earth is to make sure that I get out here and save other children, fathers, anybody who I could put a hand on, and just be able to give them that support system,” he said.

With a membership of over 150 fathers, Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club is a testament to the power of community, intentionality and the transformative impact of fatherhood. Williams’s journey from a young father seeking guidance to a community leader offers a powerful reminder that having a vision and dedication can spur inspired change. 

For More Information

In honor of Father’s Day, Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club is hosting its 6th Annual Fathers March at Ogden Park (6500 S. Racine) on Saturday, June 15, from Noon-4p.m. Participants will get to learn more about community resources, employment opportunities, and engage in activities. There will also be a diaper giveaway. There is no cost to this event. 

To register as a community organization, visit:

To volunteer with Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club, visit:

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