As he kept a vigil beside his son’s hospital bed, Barry Hampton filled yellow legal pads with the thoughts that rushed through him. Prayers for his son’s health, anger at the incident that changed their lives, appreciation for the support system he had.
He wrote when he woke up. He wrote on the bus to and from work. He wrote during breaks while at work. “It was therapeutic,” he said.
Five years after his son, Stephen, was severely injured and three years after Stephen passed away due to lingering complications, Barry Hampton’s hand-written notes have become a book: Prayers of a Father, now available on Amazon.
“I feel like I honored my son by doing that,” Hampton said. “Whether two people buy it or 200, it was worth it.”
His pastor encouraged him to write down his thoughts and experiences, and his counselor – Jacque Edmerson, Director of Clinical Services at Cincinnati Works – helped him reckon with those thoughts and experiences.
Hampton had been a Cincinnati Works Member for about 5 years when his son suffered shaken-baby syndrome at the hands of the boy’s mother’s fiancé. Because Hampton already had a relationship with Edmerson and the staff at Cincinnati Works, he leaned on them throughout the years that followed, including a job change and self-publishing the book.
“It’s always great to have a network of support, and I have that at Cincinnati Works,” Hampton said.
Stephen was 13 months old when he was injured, and he lived for another 2 ½ years before passing away in October 2018. Hampton was a “doting father,” Edmerson said, and his grief was evident throughout those 2 ½ years.
“I relied on Miss Jacque a lot,” Hampton said. “Even before that, she helped me talk through my relationship with my son’s mother and just establishing boundaries for myself. She helped me grow as a person. Then the grief counseling … was critical for my mental health.”
The Covid-19 pandemic brought another challenge, physically and mentally.
Hampton has sickle cell anemia, so he was wary of catching the virus and lobbied his employer to work from home as early as February 2020, before such a request became commonplace. His relationship with the employer soured, his performance suffered, and he was fired from the job in September 2020.
In just a few weeks, he found another job that allows him to work from home full-time. He contacted Cincinnati Works for help updating his resume and preparing for a phone interview, which he aced. He has held the job ever since.
“He stuck with us. He did all the right things, everything we ask our Members to do,” Edmerson said. “When he has bumps in the road, he seeks us out – and he listens.”
Hampton said his experience with Cincinnati Works has helped him appreciate “what value I can give and what value (an employer) can give me.” He counts the Cincinnati Works staff among his support team, along with his older brothers, Jay and Curtis.
“Money is great – everyone wants to make more money – but it is better to know people,” Hampton said. “That’s what Cincinnati Works is for me. It’s my network.”