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The City Journals

Father’s Day around the County 2019

Jun 10, 2019 02:11PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Utah daddy blogger Jason Dunnigan has been writing about being a modern dad for the past five years. This Father’s Day he is grateful for his adoptive parents and three young children. (Photo Credit Jason Dunnigan)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

Happy Father’s Day, Salt Lake County! The City Journals gives a tribute to Valley dads by sharing what they are doing this holiday. 

Father’s Day bows to Mother’s Day

Like a gentleman, June’s Father’s Day bows to May’s Mother’s Day, opening the door for her and letting her go first. Father’s Day, according to some fathers the City Journals interviewed, like to keep their day more modest than a more elaborate Mother’s Day.

Explained Jeff Stenquist, a Draper resident and Republican member of the Utah Legislature, “Myself and fathers in general, we don’t get into celebrations so much. We don’t try to draw a lot of attention to ourselves.” Stenquist noted that gifts for Father’s Day tend to be “socks,” versus more exotic gifts for Mother’s Day.

Socks work just fine for the Draper dad of adopted children from the Ukraine, followed by the added gift of biological children in what some parents would consider an enviable boy-girl-boy-girl formation. “Fatherhood is a great honor. It’s a great experience to be a dad.”

Father’s Days on the road, again

Born in India and then growing up in Kearns, Salt Lake County District Attorney and Salt Lake City Foothill neighborhood resident Sim Gill recalls spending Father’s Day on the road with his father. 

Back in those days, property assessment was a centralized function for the state, versus a responsibility now delegated to counties. Gill’s father, Jagdish, then an appraiser for the state of Utah, now residing in Cottonwood Heights, would travel the state to assess land values. “Delta, Kanab, St. George, Price, Duchesne,” Gill rattled off Utah municipalities as if in a speed challenge.

Gill and his brother and sister always viewed Father’s Day as “an adventure” and a “special time,” spent on the road, away from their Kearns childhood home.

Foster Father of the Year—A Hawaiiday in Holladay

Just in time for Father’s Day, Holladay resident and head of strategic insights for Western Governors University Michael Morris was named Foster Father of the Year for the Salt Lake metropolitan area.

First fostering, then adopting seven children within the first six months of marriage, Morris and his wife, Amy, were a phenomenon. Now, almost three years later, the couple has achieved near super-foster hero status for fostering another five children, all siblings, hoping to ultimately reunite them with their birth parents. 

The Utah Foster Care Chalk Art Festival at the Gateway is officially honoring him the last day of the festival—and the day before Father’s Day.

Wife Amy Morris has another surprise for her husband’s Father’s Day. She is going to recreate a memorable Hawaii anniversary, by turning their Holladay backyard into Hawaiiday—creating a temporary sand pit and paddling pool, complete with 12 children and parents in grass skirts, sipping “mocktails.”

The ModernDad.Com—‘We get to families in different ways’

Utah is somewhat famous for its Mommy Bloggers — women who write on the Internet about their experience as moms. Jason Dunnigan, senior digital communications specialist at Riverton-based Stampin’ Up, has been presenting the other side of the story, giving “a guy’s perspective” on being a parent since the first posting of his “The Modern Dad” blog in 2014.

This Father’s Day will be the first time Dunnigan, who was adopted, is armed with information about his biological parents.

At Christmas in December, he was gifted with ancestry DNA from local company Through the experience Dunnigan ended up in dialogue with his birth mother and learned about his birth father.

The experience—and what he said he will be thinking about this Father’s Day—is a gift for himself, knowing, “I am where I am supposed to be.” Dunnigan, a father of three who said he looks like his adopted father, Taylorsville resident Jim Dunnigan, a long-time Republican representative of the Utah House of Representatives, observed, “Sometimes, we get to families in different ways. I am really grateful.”

Giving fathers a head start

West Valley City resident Frank Bedolla said he has coached more than 600 low-income Utah dads on how to be the best fathers possible, by un-learning behaviors and attitudes. 

Through his nonprofit Fathers and Families Coalition of Utah, Bedolla offers the Nurturing Fathers Program, a 13-week, evidence-based training course designed to teach men parenting and nurturing skills.

Fathers and Families Coalition starts the work of growing great future dads for young men, as well. Bedolla’s “Wise Guys” course, currently being taught at Murray High School and downtown’s Horizonte School, “teaches young boys how to be men, how to treat women.”

Bedolla said previous generations of parents misunderstood “quality time,” to the detriment of their children and families. “They thought quality time was being present, but it is also being interactive.”

His advice to Utah fathers? “The best thing you can do is invest in your child. Be the best father you can be. Be there.”

Prizes for papas - keeping fathers safe on the job by remembering their children

For the past 14 years, WCF Insurance (Workers Compensation Fund) has reached out to Utah’s growing Hispanic and Spanish-speaking audience. As can be imagined, many of those folks are dads. WCF wants to remind dads to be careful on the job, and do it through the gentle and most powerful tug of all—through the heartstrings of their children.

The Padre d’el Año—Father of the Year—competition gives Utah children a way to nominate their fathers to earn the special honor and to be gifted with prizes WCF touts as being $500 in value. Children in three age groups—ages 7-11, 12-15, and 15-17 nominate their papas for the prizes.

Victor Avalos, the 2016 Padre d’el Año (Father of the Year) receives his customized jersey at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Photo Credit WCF


Three fathers each season are honored, receiving cash and one-of-a-kind gifts. This year’s Padre d’el Año and two runners-up will be honored at the June 29 Real Salt Lake game.

While the program is targeted to Hispanic and Spanish-speaking audiences, the honor is available to all. Entry forms (offered in Spanish and English) are available at

The contest is a case of all fathers being winners.

“The major reward that each father receives is knowing they are heroes for their children,” said Carlos Baez, community relations manager for WCF and Taylorsville father of three.