Jerry and Crystal Powell are pictured with four of their seven children, from left, Caira, 18, Grace 8, Jerry, 10, and Corey, 17. CONTRIBUTED

Jerry Powell credits the Southernmost Fatherhood Initiative with helping him to be a better parent, husband and man.

In 1999, social worker and Key West resident Billy Davis launched the nonprofit A Positive Step of Monroe County with a mission to serve the county’s highest risk kids and their families.

But in 2019, upon realizing that a large percentage of the at-risk kids come from homes without dads, Davis launched the Southernmost Fatherhood Initiative to try to reverse the statistics.

The cost-free program’s “evidence-based” curriculum, which consists of 12 two-hour sessions, is “designed to provide supportive training for dads, including incarcerated ones, in developing new skills in parent, co-parent and child relationships,” Davis said. The initiative also guides clients to 12-step programs if needed, GED referrals, job training, job coaching, construction job referrals and case management, Davis said.

Powell is a married father of seven in a blended family and a volunteer youth sports coach who reached out to Davis after reading about the Southernmost Fatherhood Initiative in the Keys Weekly newspaper. 

At the end of 2020, he, his wife Crystal, and several of their blended family of two girls and five boys had moved to Key West due to Crystal’s career with the Air Force. The move meant the couple would no longer be within driving distance of three of their kids. Feeling the need for “stronger glue” to help the family remain close, Powell enrolled.

Sports and music are key features in the Powell family life. Caira, 18, attends West Palm Beach Atlantic University on a choir scholarship. Jervontae, 17, will graduate this year from Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, Alabama, where he is in the school choir. Grace, 8, is a second grader at Sigsbee who plays soccer. Jerry, 10, is a Sigsbee fourth grader and avid soccer player on a travel team. Corey, 17, will graduate from Key West High School this year. He plays football, wrestles and is a team manager for the Storm Surge traveling basketball team. Jerry Sr. coaches the Sigsbee boys basketball team. Crystal coaches the girls team, and they serve each other as assistant coaches.

Jerry Powell, left, a past participant in A Positive Step of Monroe County’s “Southernmost Fatherhood Initiative” program, is pictured with APSMC founder/executive director Billy Davis while volunteering at December’s Rudolph Red Nose 5K.

“I wanted to be a better father. I’m still not the best, but I’m always seeking to be better — better husband, better father, better man,” Jerry Powell said after participating in the fatherhood initiative. “I want to be a person of character, integrity and accountability. As a father, a mentor and a coach, it’s important to stand on the principles we’re trying to teach young men and women. We adults have to exemplify these things if we are going to teach it and expect it of the kids around us.” 

Through their APSMC association, Davis also pointed Powell, who was looking for work, to a possible opportunity at Waste Management. Powell got the job and said he finds the variety each day satisfying. 

“My job is as a non-commercial driver, but I do everything. One day I might be delivering portaloos to a site, another I’ll be hauling electronics up the Keys. On the first Saturday of each month we have a household hazardous waste drop-off where people can dispose of things that can’t be put in household trash, like paint, antifreeze, batteries and electronics,” he said. “Greg Sullivan (senior district manager for Waste Management in Monroe County) is an awesome boss and gives his employees the opportunity to learn as much as we want to learn.”

In addition to his sports coaching and busy family and work life, Powell is now a dedicated APSMC volunteer. “I’m living proof that A Positive Step of Monroe County cares about people,” he said. “Billy Davis is a godsend and has helped my family on numerous occasions. I’m just very thankful for him and everything he stands for and represents. He’s a very positive, selfless person and that’s why whenever he asks me to help with something, I do my best to drop everything and do it.”

A Positive Step of Monroe County’s Southernmost Fatherhood Initiative is open to dads, stepdads and grandfathers with children under 18. It is supported by the Monroe County Human Services Advisory Board, the Truist Foundation, the Batchelor Foundation and private donors. For enrollment and information, contact Davis at 305-304-1969 or More information is at