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Inspiring Conversations with Shaun Swearengen of DADS of STL NFP

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaun Swearengen.

Hi Shaun, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Thank You for this opportunity to share my story. I wanted to give my first interview to VoyageSTL in hopes that my Story will propel someone else to achieve goals never imaginable. My family’s journey began in Batesville, MS. My Grandmother Alta Swearengen and numerous other relatives would decide later to relocate to St. Louis, MO for better opportunities. Throughout my childhood I had a broken relationship with my biological father, and this would be the catalyst for change for me to become the father I am today. I wholeheartedly attribute my success, determination and hard work to my mother Venita Swearengen Butler, She instilled in me that anything is possible regardless of your circumstances handed to you in life. I hold on to that belief still to this day!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Often times I found myself developing a callose towards the things that I witnessed from drug usage to violence. I became numb to it all. I always knew the right thing to do yet I fell short most times. Back in 1996, I was expelled from school due to a violent act on my part against a teacher at Brittany Woods Middle school in University City. After sitting in Juvenile, then later not being able to attend ANY public schools in Saint Louis it was at that moment I knew a decision was needed as it pertains to my life.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about DADS of STL NFP?
The vision at D.A.D.S. of STL is to encourage, educate and empower fathers.
My Mission is to inspire men to embrace who they are with the goal to become Dependable, Active, Dedicated, Supportive D. A. D.S. in the lives of their families.

In my early 20s, I became a father for the first time to a beautiful baby girl (Jada) as I mentioned, because of my troubled past with my biological father, I did not want to have that same experience with my daughter. I was nervous about this new role as a dad, but I did what was needed to be a good father by working diligently to be active and present in her life. At the time, I wished I had a good support system of D.A.D.S. to help me along my new journey of being a father. As my first born grew older, I wanted a more permanent role in my daughter’s life and took the steps towards better co-parenting and then eventually joint custody. This was certainly a new experience for me which brought on challenges, struggles and lessons. But like every issue that I’ve endured, I was able to tackle single fatherhood by being persistent and never giving up.

I would later marry my high school girlfriend Melanie Adams Swearengen. We had a beautiful girl together in 2016; unfortunately, in 2017 I experienced a tragedy that would rock me to the core. I tragically lost my wife. I became a widower which immediately made me a full-time single father raising my 9-month-old daughter (Olivia). Though there was much heartache and pain with experiencing such a tragic loss, I had to show up for my daughters. Which is what I did and will continue to do each and every day.

Being a dad alone isn’t easy. But raising children as a single father is even more challenging but so rewarding. From my life experiences, D.A.D.S. of STL was birthed. I am a father that knows struggle, anger, fear, grief and challenges.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better; it’s about what you’ve given back. I truly believe my place in this world is to give back. Often times I tell people that we are not put on this earth for ourselves but are placed here for each other. If you are always there for others, then in a time of need, someone will be there for you.

I’ve had a lot of mentors, supporters & advocates throughout my journey into business, entrepreneurship & philanthropy. I wish I had time to list them ALL but here’s who came to mind:

First, Ethan Eitel has been my financial advisor for years. He has always given me some of the greatest advice as it pertains to making money & even more importantly keeping it. I’m certainly thankful & fortunate for my position during this pandemic however, it really made me think about one of my favorite quotes in business “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” We should always plan for the future. No one ever plans to be sick, disabled or out of work Yet, it’s just this kind of planning that can make all the difference in times of emergency.

Next, Committeeman Marty J Murray, whom I had the honor of being one of the Sponsors of his idea to bring the Roy Clay Computer Lab to life, Also I’ve sponsored an event for his Gloved4Grades NFP where he encourages boxers to win in school. Marty is certainly someone that I can call for honest advice on business or even just life.
My family, The Swearengen Family – I have a lot of Successful family members, before you may say it was easy for me it wasn’t NO. None of this came without struggles & obstacles however as a family we’ve managed to pull through It all together. My family believes that one person’s success is OUR success.

My late wife Melanie Adams Swearengen. I pause here to reminisce just how much she meant to me. This is a very emotional moment for me considering I haven’t shared some of these things with anyone publicly. Melanie was my biggest cheerleader, she encouraged me each day to be great. I still see her smile today and I can hear her laugh. She had a personality that would light up a room! She spoke life into me during times of uncertainty, she cared for me, she brought me calm and she would often say to me, “Shaun you can always do whatever you want in life” and I carry that with me daily. She was a phenomenal woman and forever in my heart.

And last but certainly not least my business partners & Founders of “TCM” Rance John & Terry Armstrong. These two men gave me an opportunity of a lifetime to join them in a company that was already moving forward. I am forever grateful these men saw something in me.

Thanks again for letting me share my story, for anyone who is reading my story please know that I believe that we all have a responsibility to give back. No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others, and a little luck. Giving back creates a cycle that makes everyone more successful. Everything I’ve done from feeding the homeless for over 7 years, to assisting single fathers, mothers & sponsoring numerous community events in the Saint Louis Area. I know all too well that what I’m doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop(s) were not there, the ocean would be missing something.

“Each one teach one.”

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  1. Josh Shoemaker

    June 3, 2022 at 10:41 pm

    I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Shaun over the last several months, thank you for sharing his story! I know that Shaun cares for people immensely and hope Shaun’s story connects him with people that he can help, and inspires more people to give emotionally, supportively to the people around them. Thank you voyage for sharing, and thank you Shaun for all that you do!

  2. Kristin Mosley

    June 20, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    I can personally attest that every single word in this article speaks to the resilience, courage and bravery Shaun has demonstrated over the course of his life. He is definitely one of STL’s best kept secrets and now he, finally, is using his voice and to share his story that can help so many! Kudos Shaun and I look forward to what’s to come from you. “Continue being great!”

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