Tawana Bain comes by her compassion for fatherless children honestly: She grew up as what she refers to as a “daddy-less girl”, becoming a teenage mother, and was, at one point, homeless. But she drove herself, and today she is a well-educated entrepreneur and community leader.
As a mother, she has seen stark differences between her two sons. Her 16-year-old’s father is present in his life, while her 22-year-old son’s father is not. This motivated her to do something about absentee fathers, and she officially launched a nonprofit called Charity in Love, Increasing Faith and Hope (CLIFH) several years ago. It became a registered 501(c)3 corporation in 2017.
“What catapulted me into launching CLIFH was when my 18-year-old son, whose father had been absent a majority of his life, looked at me and asked the question ‘Mom, why is my younger brother so much more stable than I am?’ And that really broke my heart, and we sat down and talked until the sun came up,” she says. “As we talked and I learned the emotions that he was dealing with, I realized how similar they were to mine.”
When Bain began researching the issue, she learned that not having a father in the home is “a huge epidemic that leads to addiction, jail, dropouts, teen pregnancy, which can also compound underlying mental health issues that they’re unaware of,” she says.
Today, CLIFH’s board includes Circuit Court Judge Derwin Webb, attorney Amy Hulbert, and Cindy Philpott. Kim Moore, who works with at-risk youth for Metro Louisville, is the current executive director. Bain said the group’s goal is to help young people ages 8-21 who have no father figure in their life by providing essentials like housing, utilities, clothing, education, and mentorship to help them get on the right track.
“Our mission is to thwart self-destructive behavior in young people who may have a future in athletics, education, or the arts,” Bain says.
She said her goal is to open a CLIFH office in every city in the U.S., and it’s hard to doubt she’ll achieve it. She started her project management firm, New Age Communications, 14 years ago and has led it to many successes. This year, she’ll launch the Derby Diversity Business Summit, matching minority-owned suppliers with buyers during the biggest week of the year in Louisville. She has signed sponsorship agreements with 20 firms, including Proctor & Gamble, Delta Air Lines, and Nestle.
Her community leadership is evidenced by her memberships on the Louisville Sustainability Council, the Governor’s Minority Employment Business Affairs & Economic Development Council, and the YMCA Camp Piomingo board. She also chairs the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee for Kentucky government.
Her own story provides a perfect example to the thousands of children living in homes where the father is absent. With CLIFH, she hopes give some of those children a step forward.