BOOKS FOR DAD

12 April, 2015

2015 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR MEN AND BOYS -- SUNDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2015



INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR MEN AND BOYS
SUNDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2015
 





CONTACT:
  
D.A. Sears
USA Coordinator – International Men’s Day
Member, International Men’s Day Coordination Committee
267-581-3963
E-Mail:  insearchoffatherhood@gmail.com

                                                                           
CALL TO PRAYER

            Many of us are members of what has come to be regarded as one of the last generations of children raised by the village.  It seemed that every adult and every institution made positive contributions to the growth of the village.  Religious institutions and religious leaders were the “center of the universe” for the village.  And the village embraced its religious institutions and religious leaders.   Wisdom comes from all places.  Our religious institutions and religious leaders have “key pieces of the puzzle” to strengthening our families, empowering our communities, and bringing healing to our global village.  This is an observation that is not lost on a number of International Men’s Day Coordinators. International Men’s Day Coordinators are issuing a “Call To Prayer” to religious institutions and religious leaders of all faiths and denominations to engage their congregation in prayer for Men and Boys on the Sunday immediately preceding 2015 International Men’s Day.  We have designated Sunday, 15 November 2015 as the International Day of Prayer for Men and  Boys.   We are asking every church, synagogue, mosque, and temple to engage its congregation in prayer for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of Men and Boys – our sons, fathers, stepfathers, husbands, fiancées,  uncles, grandfathers, great grandfathers, brothers, cousins, and nephews.   The  International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys on  Sunday, 15 November 2015 will usher in 2015 International Men’s Day (www.imd-global.org).   Individuals, institutions and organizations in 80 nations throughout our global village  will observe International Men’s Day on Thursday, 19 November 2015 under the theme, “Make A Difference For Men and Boys.”  Our religious institutions and religious leaders have a key role to play in helping to keep Men and Boys safe and helping to eradicate some of the key challenges which make it extremely difficult for Men and Boys to live happier, healthier, and longer lives.


           Imagine if you will, the powerfulness of 7.2 billion souls who occupy the space and place we know as Planet Earth -- of all faiths and denominations --  lifting their voices in prayers of thanksgiving for the  Men and Boys in our lives and for the selfless sacrifices and valuable contributions that Men quietly and unceremoniously make to our families, our communities, and our world – every day.    What if on Sunday, 15 November 2015 – the International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys --  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists throughout our global village embarked on a journey to work together in a loving and collaborative spirit  to end Fatherlessness, gender wars, homelessness, intolerance, poverty, hunger, and violence? 


         The International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys is a call for peace; it is a call for bringing hope to the hopeless.  It is a call for transforming our spiritually, psychologically and emotionally toxic communities into a loving, nurturing, and spiritually vibrant  oasis.   It is a call to end the “school-to-prison” pipeline.  It is a call to end the rising suicide rate of Men and Boys.  It is a call to level the educational playing field for boys and put an end to boys – Our Sons – the Next Generation of Leaders, Husbands, and Fathers being arbitrarily misdiagnosed as “behavior problems” and “unteachable”, placed on Ritalin or other psychotropic medications, and warehoused in Special Education Classes.   It is a call to end the rising high school dropout rate among Our Sons.  It is a call to end the violence that plagues our communities and prematurely snuffs out the lives of Men and Boys.  It is a call to provide Boys and Men with real-life options.  It is a call to bring spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing to our families, our communities, and our global village.  It is a call for understanding – an understanding that each of the 7.2 billion souls who occupy this space and place we know as Planet Earth are connected to one another.  And an understanding that  we all live in grave peril if we are not working to keep Men and Boys safe and helping them to live happier, longer, and healthier lives. 
-->

12 January, 2015

GIVING MEN AND BOYS EMOTIONAL FREEDOM


           When it comes to Men and Boys, we have it all wrong.   Men and Boys receive a steady diet of subliminal mixed messages about masculinity, parental roles and responsibilities, and the rules of engagement for courtship and marriage through mainstream media, films, television situation comedies and literature.  Women and girls receive that same steady diet.   As a result, there is this unsubstantiated notion floating around that Men and Boys  do not have the same range of emotions as Women and Girls – that they are emotionless automatons.   Nothing could be further from the truth.  When Our Sons emerge from the womb they are equipped with the same set of emotions and the same level of sensitivity.   They are joyful, compassionate, loving, enthusiastic, and insatiably curious souls.  At some point during their journey from childhood to manhood, Our Sons are told explicitly and implicitly to be strong and that it is not “manly” to show their emotions.    Specifically, Our Sons are told:  “Boys and men don’t cry.”  .  And when boys and Men seem not to show any emotion, we accuse them of being insensitive and uncaring   We are wrongfully penalizing Men and Boys for being human when they are not allowed to express their vulnerability.   We are stripping them of their humanity.  Let’s give Men and Boys the emotional freedom they so desperately need and want.


            When Our Sons reach manhood they are told:  A real man does this! A real man does that!”   While society tells boys and men how to be a man, society is not telling girls and women how to be a woman.  No one is telling girls and women:  “A real women does this! A real woman does that!” We seem to be so obsessed with telling Men what they ought to do and what they are not doing.  Hardly anyone is telling Men, “Your presence completes me as a person.  Your presence completes our family – our community. You have value.  You are loved.  You are needed.”  We also seem so consumed about what a Man is supposed to give. The conversation always seems to be about:  “A man is supposed to give this.  A man is supposed to give that.”   When it comes to Men, the conversation generally seems to be about “taking” – what we can and should take from him.   Men are expected to provide safety and support.  But when is the last time a man heard someone tell him:  “Hey, I’ve got your back! You can count on me to protect and support you!”  Men need to feel safe and supported, too!


          So, what happens to a Man who is constantly bombarded with mixed signals about his role as a Man and a Father; badgered about what he ought to be doing and what he is not doing; and not expected to show any emotions even when he is drowning in grief and pain?  His spirit breaks and his soul shatters.   Self-doubt, low self-esteem, and stress overtake him.  He feels empty . . . isolated . . . powerless.  He may plunge into the deep abyss of depression.  Or becomes emotionally disengaged.  He may self-medicate his emotional pain with food, alcohol or drugs.  His physical and mental health suffers.  Is it any wonder that there is an alarmingly rising incidence of strokes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and diabetes?  Should we find it surprising that some Men who have “given their all” only to discover that “giving their all” is just not enough, commit suicide as a means of escaping the abuse and madness that surrounds them? 


       Is that we want?  Do want Men and Boys walking around in our communities who are emotionally disengaged and self-medicating?   Is it really fair to ask Men and Boys to surrender their freedom of emotional expression?   Why are we asking Men and Boys to give up their humanity?


        It is imperative that we create – with all deliberate speed --  a space and place for Men where can they cry, shout, laugh, and articulate their emotional pain without fear of having their manhood called into question. In 2015, let’s work together to give Men and Boys the emotional freedom they need – the same level of emotional freedom that Women and Girls enjoy.
__________
­­Diane A. Sears is the USA Coordinator for International Men’s Day (www.imd-global.org); Chair of the USA 2012-2022 International Men’s Day Ten Year Plan; member of the University Council for Fatherhood and Men’s Studies at Akamai University (www.akamaiuniversity.us), Managing Editor of IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®, a quarterly international Fatherhood and Men’s Issues Journal; and author of a Fatherhood book – In Search Of Fatherhood®--Transcending Boundaries (www.amazon.com).

20 December, 2014

CREATING THE "PROMISE OF A NEW DAY" FOR THE VILLAGE: SCI GRATERFORD'S "FATHERS AND CHILDREN TOGETHER" PROGRAM AND MR. DAWAN WILILAMS

          Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. If you could create the “Promise Of A New Day” for the village, what would it consist of? Would we find responsible and accountable Men committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of the village – our children – our babies -- and our Elders? Would we find positive male role models positively shaping the minds and souls of our children – the village’s Next Generation of Leaders, Husbands, Fathers, Wives, and Mothers? What would the “Promise Of A New Day” sound like? Would the cacophony of children’s incessant playful banter and spontaneous laughter reverberate throughout the village? And what would the “Promise Of A New Day” feel like? Would it feel safe . . . loving . . and nurturing? Is this possible? Yes! Mr. Dawan Williams and the Unity Community Action Network (“U-CAN”) through the Fathers and Children Together (“F.A.C.T.”) Program are creating the “Promise Of A New Day” for the village. 

           Mr. Williams is a graduate of F.A.C.T., a dynamic two-tiered parenting program which is heralded as a global model for healing, redemption, ending Fatherlessness, and rebuilding the village developed by the internal members of U-CAN at SCI Graterford in Graterford, Pennsylvania. The F.A.C.T. program is supported by The Honorable Ronald G. Waters, a State Representative for Pennsylvania’s 191st District and an External Team consisting of individuals from diverse professional backgrounds. After ten years of incarceration, Mr. Williams recently returned to his family and his community. He credits his strong sense of purpose, parenting skills, and resolve to help eradicate the devastating effects of Fatherless households which are at the root of the chaos enveloping our communities to the F.A.C.T. Program. 

           So, how did Mr. Williams, a spokesman for F.A.C.T., become involved with this powerful program? 

              “I was involved with the Fathers and Children Together Program which is supported by Pennsylvania State Representative Ronald G. Waters of the 191st Legislative District out of West Philadelphia. The program is geared toward reconnecting Incarcerated Fathers back with their children. I transferred to SCI Graterford in 2012. One of the board members – one of the Internal Board Members -- came to me and made me aware of the program and the components of the program and how it would be beneficial not only to me, but to my children and my family. So, I signed up. Before going on the visit with my child, the Men at Graterford – the Lifers at Graterford who are involved in the program – they brought awareness about the effects of a fatherless household and how when children are coming up with their mothers to the visiting room, the Fathers are more involved with the mother than the child and the child is left with his or her own experience.” 

           When we asked Mr. Williams to describe the F.A.C.T. program, he offered the following:

          “There were five sessions that I had to take at Graterford which would lead up to the workshop sessions with my child. The sessions were twice a week for two hours for six weeks from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. The first session was about the effects of a fatherless household and pretty much covered the root of the problems in our community as far as the Fathers not being there, how our children are affected, how the children’s mothers are affected – our grandmothers – our uncles -- are affected – how the whole family is affected by the male not being in the household. The second session was entitled, ‘Accountability and Responsibility’ . Now this touched upon some of the things covered in Session One regarding Fathers. At Graterford, they diligently tried to make it clear about accountability and responsibility and to show you what it is to be an accountable and responsible adult. For example, checking homework, and showing your children rather than telling them. The third session explored the importance of education which is a real blockbuster for our community. With regard to the importance of education, they went over how important it is to talk to your child about education and that when you make it back into society how important it is to meet the principal of your child’s school, to sit down with your child and check their homework, and let the child know that education will take them far. The fourth session was called ‘Bonding’. A lot of us were not taught how to properly bond with one another because, again, the fathers were not present in our lives. It is very important to bond with your child. And again, these sessions were giving you the necessary tools to have with you so that during the visiting room workshops when you are with your child you are not stuck – you know -- looking at your child not knowing which way to go. So, bonding taught us how to find your child’s strengths and weaknesses, how to get to know your child, how to find your child’s likes and dislikes, and how to build a better relationship with your child. We were taught the importance of bonding because once you share a bond with your daughter or your son, that bond cannot be broken And the fifth and final session is called ‘Love/Self Worth’. And a lot of the time we need to build self-worth in our children and let them know that they are worth more than what they see every day in our community. And a lot of us -- we don’t know how to love. Love is a verb. It is an action word. And a lot of us need to teach our children how to love through our action and to show them that we love them through our actions. There is a way to love by showing that you care by giving them support and listening to them – utilizing your listening skills. 

           “After these workshops are done, the parent or guardian of the child then goes to meet with our External Team to get counseling and to learn how to become better mothers. They are given resources as to where they can get help for some of the problems that are going on in their lives. A lot of them may need help finding employment and they can sit down with a member of the External Team and go over resumés and job readiness programs. The counseling that they receive are pretty much the same five sessions rolled up into one which the Fathers receive. The mothers or guardians are also told what to expect with the one-on-one visits between the Fathers and the children. So, after the final session, the one-on-one visits with the children start. The mothers – parent or guardians -- go to the prisons with the children in the van. The mothers – parents or guardians – either come to the District Office of State Representative Ronald G. Waters at 60th and Ludlow Streets or to Broad Street and Erie Avenue – depending on what part of the city you are from. You can park your car and get on the van. The External Team will bring the mothers – parents or guardians – and the children, free of charge, to the prison. The children will be dropped off with members of the External Team and Internal Team members at the prison where they will meet them in the visiting room while the Mothers are dropped off at a restaurant where they are served a meal. They also receive counseling during this time and it is an opportunity for them to discuss things that are going on in the community and they are also letting each other know, ‘You are not alone. You are not the only one going through this.’ This process continues for seven weeks in a row. Week after week, the relationships begin to grow. In the visiting room, during the visiting room workshops, we have the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program which is a part of the program as well. There is a mural arts program going on and there is a section in the visiting room that is specifically set aside for the F.A.C.T. Program and what happens is you sit down with your son or your daughter. Right now we are working on a mural project which will go up in the City of Philadelphia at 55th and Woodland Avenue. The fathers and children sit down and learn about each other. We learn about our children’s favorite colors. We know that from bonding with them. We talk to them about their favorite subject in school and we talk to them about the importance of getting an education. By doing this, we are demonstrating accountability and responsibility. We apologize to our children for not being there in their lives because we understand the effects of a Fatherless household. All of these things were covered by the Lifers at Graterford. They actually train you on how to become a Father – a true definition of a Father – and we do exercises. The Lifers take the children off to the side and take the Fathers off to the side. They ask the children: ‘What is your favorite color?’ The children will write their favorite color on a flash card. Once we all get back together in the visiting room, the Lifers would ask the Fathers: ‘What is your child’s favorite color?’ In the one-on-one session, we would be going over our children’s favorite color. So, in the end, your child would know your favorite movie, your favorite color, your favorite vegetable, and the foods you like to eat. The Fathers would know what is going on in school, what is going on in the community, and what is bothering the child. This helps to form an unbreakable bond.” 

             The discussion moved to the final week – Week Seven – of the F.A.C.T. Program and the Certificate Ceremony. 

              “Now, Week Number Seven is the actual ceremony. All of the External Team members along with the parents or guardians do not go to a restaurant. They come in to Graterford for a Certificate Ceremony along with Pennsylvania State Representative Ronald G. Waters, the entire External Team and members of the entire Internal Team along with the Superintendent of the Prison Mr. Michael Wenerowicz. Sometimes the Department of Corrections Secretary The Honorable John E. Wetzel will show up. Lorrraine Ballard Morrill, News and Community Affairs Director at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment attended the Certificate Ceremony and the Mayor of Pottstown attended the last Certificate Ceremony. He learned about the program and decided to bear witness to it. It is a very tear-jerking and emotional ceremony because the Mothers have built a bond – they have built a sisterhood with one another. Our children have built a sisterhood and brotherhood with one another. Our Fathers inside the wall at Graterford who have gone through the sessions and learning about the effects of a Fatherless household, accountability and responsibility and have worked together on all of the workshops and sessions – we have built a brotherhood. Our children have become family. The parents and guardians of our children have become family. They get to know one another and look forward to seeing one another week after week. And after the Certificate Ceremony, it is time to say good-bye. So, what are we going to do now? What are we going to do at this point? This is where the real work begins because now there are no weekly sessions. But we have after care components that are set up in the event that you are having issues. The External Team is available to you and State Representative Waters’ doors are open to you. We also added a ‘Letter Writing Campaign’ as a component of F.A.C.T. We are now writing to the principal of our children’s schools.” 

           What was the catalyst for the “Letter Writing Campaign” that has become a component of F.A.C.T.? 

             “When I was inside, I sat down and looked up the school that my son went to in a phone book and I wrote to his principal and explained my situation. I poured my heart out. I told him that I was incarcerated and I explained to him that I am a Father who is fortunate enough, not only through the F.A.C.T. program, but through his mother and my family, to be with my child. So while I am visiting with my son I want to utilize the time to help meet the school in the middle to resolve the issues that our children are going through. So, can you provide me with a copy of my child’s suspension letters, progress reports, his report card? Can you give me a general update on the status of my child and what is going on so that during these visits with him, I can talk to him and try to help to get to the bottom of what’s going on with him. So, the principal actually wrote me back and provided me with all of the information that I asked for. He thanked me for writing him and was blown away that, in all of the entire 10 years he had been a principal, he had never received a letter from an incarcerated parent reaching out saying, ‘Help me help my child.’ I shared the response I received from the principal with members of the U-CAN Internal Team. It sent shock waves throughout the prison.”

               Mr. Williams’ quest to help his son excel academically forged a partnership between himself and the school. This development struck a chord with Dr. William Hite, Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia. 

          “We had a meeting after my arrival from Graterford with Dr. Hite, the Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia and this was brought to his attention,” Williams recalls. “Dr. Hite agreed that incarcerated fathers should have a copy of their children’s report cards and records, that they should know what is bothering their children in school and he is moving toward giving the ‘go ahead’ to principals of schools in the School District of Philadelphia that when the fathers are writing from the prisons trying to acquire information about their children that the principals should go ahead and meet them in the middle so that we can try to stop the pipeline to prison. Now one of the first things that they do in a case where an incarcerated father is asking the school for information about his child, is to contact the child’s mother to obtain permission to release the records and if the mother says ‘It’s okay’, the records are released to the incarcerated father.” 

               On Monday, 6 October 2014, Mr. Williams was released from SCI Graterford. With help from the F.A.C.T. External Team, his release became what Mr. Williams describes as a “groundbreaking event”. 

                “After completing my 10 years of incarceration, the External Team set it up so that I could surprise my son by visiting him at his school. No one knew I was coming home except the members of the External Team of the F.A.C.T. Program. They contacted the principal and let him know that an incarcerated father was returning home after doing 10 years of incarceration. Now prior to going to prison, my son’s mother was just impregnated with my son – Little Dawan – and I was arrested right after that. So, the whole nine months of her pregnancy, I was incarcerated and missed every single birthday that Little Dawan had. So all he knew of me was through the visiting room and through letters and through phone calls. I was not able to spend one single day in society with my son and throw a football or go to a basketball game or go to the store with him for a soda or a bag of chips or anything of that nature. So, we wanted to make this a groundbreaking event. The External Team talked to the principal. State Representative Ronald G. Waters made a few phone calls because it was kind of ‘last minute’. I was coming home Monday morning, 6 October 2014, and nobody knew until that Friday which was 3 October 2014. Everything was like ‘all of a sudden.’ And Monday morning, Dr. Johnson, Penny McDonald, and the External Team and Lorraine Ballard Morrill from Clear Channel went to Pennell Elementary School at 18th and Nedro in the City of Philadelphia and they set up in the school library with the Principal and the Vice Principal and everybody else who agreed to be there. They had the video cameras rolling. I was on my way. My brother picked me up at the prison at 8:37 A.M. in the morning. It was phenomenal. You have to see the DVD which shows my reunion with my family. When I was released from prison, I went straight to Pennell Elementary School. I didn’t stop to change clothes. I didn’t stop to eat. I didn’t stop to say ‘Hi’ to anybody. I went straight from the prison – with my prison uniform on – straight to Pennell Elementary School. When I got to the school, I was ushered in through the side door because the children could see out of the windows – the children do look out of the windows – through the hallway – straight to the school’s library. When I walked in to the school library, the cameras were rolling. Lorraine Ballard Morrill began the interview and I went right into giving my testimony. About 10 minutes into my testimony, the principal left and brought my son to the library out of class. He was in class going about his normal day and the principal comes into the classroom to get him and I think he thought he was in trouble. The principal brings Little Dawan in and asks him, ‘Do you know that man standing right there?’ And the look on his face was priceless – it was unbelievable. And the hug he gave me! It was a shocker. It was a Kodak moment. My daughter, Dawan’s little sister, she is my stepdaughter, but she is my daughter. What happened here is that her father was murdered when she was one years old when I was incarcerated. She never knew her father. Her mother tried to explain it to her but she just doesn’t understand. All she knows is me. All she sees is me. When she gets older, of course, she will see the time gap that I was incarcerated for 10 years and she was only six years old. But as of right now, I’m fine with it. I’m cool with it. She’s cool with it. We are all cool with it. I treat her like she is my own. I was only able to do that after I completed the F.A.C.T. Program and was made aware of the effects of a Fatherless household and was taught accountability and responsibility, the importance of education, bonding, and self-worth. So I was not going to let Dawan’s little sister – my daughter -- fall victim to the pipeline to prison or the effects of a Fatherless household. Her mother and I have a strong growing relationship. My daughter is in kindergarten now and she goes to the same school as her brother. So after the reunion with myself and Little Dawan, the principal went back out the door and went down to the kindergarten classroom to pick up my daughter. It didn’t dawn on me that she was in the same school as Little Dawan, but I knew that we planned to go to her school. So I was shocked as well as she was. So, the principal brought her through the hallway and there she was with her barrettes clicking. Well, that’s my baby! The principal asked her, “Do you know that man standing right there?” She looked and then said, “That’s my Dad!” She ran over to me and jumped into my arms and gave me a big hug with her barrettes clicking. She just wrapped her arms around me and it was like – you know -- it was a phenomenal event. That was like the ribbon cutting. That was like the groundbreaking event.” 

              Williams takes the position that when an individual is incarcerated, everyone connected to him or her is a co-defendant. How is this possible? Well, he elaborates: 

                 “I just want to say this. On Monday, 6 October 2014 we were all released from prison because when we commit crimes, we become willing participants in mass incarceration and we are making our families and our community co-defendants. And it’s not just fathers. It’s mothers, too, because the fastest growing incarceration population is females. So what we are doing is making our children – our mothers – our loved ones – our support system – our co-defendants. Because they are bringing our children to come see us. They are signing the consent forms to allow our child to participate in the program. Who is answering the phone? Your family, your support system. Who is sending money up here so that we can buy soap or anything else that we need? It’s your support system. So, I always believed that my mind was always free but my body was at Graterford. But I knew one day I would get out and would have a better understanding and another shot at redemption and if I ever get my chance at redemption, I am going to show my son – I am going to show my daughter – I am going to show my family – I am going to show my support system – that I am never going back to prison and that for me doing the right thing is the only thing for me to do and that prison is not an option. And I have to personally apologize to Dawan’s mother and to all of my support system, you know, for doing the things that I did that led me down the path to prison and the highway to hell. You know, they didn’t deserve to have to go through the metal detectors. After working Monday through Friday, on your only day off, you have to go up to the prison to make sure that a father can see his child – go through a metal detector and deal with the nasty attitudes from the people up there and be on point to answer telephone calls and to take time out of your day after working 12 and 13 hours and having to go home to wait on a phone call. So, I had to personally apologize for that.” 

            As he builds a life for himself and his family, Williams is ever cognizant of the role that the F.A.C.T. Program has played and the F.A.C.T. External Team continues to play in helping him successfully navigate the arduous journey to redemption and reintegration: 

          “ I can’t thank the F.A.C.T. Program enough. Ever since I have been home I have been working closely with Dr. Minnie Johnson and the External Team members who have helped me with job readiness and job searches and preparing my resumé. Dr. Johnson has been a mother, she has been a sister, she has been a friend, she has worn many hats. And then there’s Ms. Penny McDonald and State Representative Ron Waters and the entire External Team. You know, it’s that old African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ And what is happening is that when guys return home from prison they don’t have this type of support system to encourage them , to support them, and to uplift them. And this is why a lot of guys resort – not to make a lot of excuses -- back to doing the same thing – because it comes naturally – the same thing that put them back on the highway to hell. And one of the most important things that although I am a strong individual at the end of the day it still boils down to free will, so to speak, because you can have all of the right things in place but still choose to step outside of the box and do some dumb crap. One thing I will say that I really really appreciate is how you all motivate me. You all let me know that I am worth something. You all let me know that you are there for me and I don’t mean by saying it – but by showing it. Even the small things like Ms. Penny says all of the time, ‘You know Dawan, I love you.’ You know that goes a long way – knowing that somebody loves you. And having somebody tell you all the time, ‘You are doing the right thing. You are doing a good job.’ And when I come here, I feel a sense of ‘home’. I feel a sense that this is where I belong. You know I have been out of prison now for 45 days now, from a 10 year, 6 day, 16 hour sentence and I haven’t gone back to the neighborhood yet and I don’t plan on going back to the neighborhood. There’s nothing there for me. I don’t want to see you. I don’t need you as a friend. I don’t need the same friends. Now, I have a new definition of a ‘friend’. During the F.A.C.T. workshop, Ghani and Magic covered what is a friend. They talked about the definition of a friend. And our children told us what is a friend at the workshops. So based on what I now know about what is a friend, I never had any friends, so there is no need for me to return to the neighborhood because there are a lot of people there who are still in the same condition that I left them in a decade ago. In order for me to stay on the path, I need to stay in this lane. If you have the right people in the right places, good things will happen. I am on the road to success and I am not getting off that road. You know even with the Fathers not being there, a lot of our mothers did the best that they could with what they had. They fell victim to a fatherless household too, and they fell into an intergenerational curse. However, there came a point in our life where we had to make a decision to either do the right thing or do the wrong thing and with that said, some of chose to do the wrong thing. But now, when you have a second chance and you have the ability to make a decision, I find it easy to say ‘I’m doing the right thing’. I look over there to see who’s around and who’s walking past. This support system that has been in place, and as far as I am concerned, has rolled out the red carpet for me is helping me with job fairs and job interviews. I have received three job offers – for three good jobs. We are taking F.A.C.T. and we are going to correct Fatherless households and we are going to take F.A.C.T.to the top.”

27 October, 2014

"BRONX FATHERS TAKING ACTION" LAUNCHES INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY OBSERVANCE WITH 1 NOVEMBER 2014 PARENT SUMMIT


P R E S S     R E L E A S E
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


CONTACT:

Mrs. Marie Roker-Jones
New York (USA) Regional Coordinator - International Men's Day



BRONX, NEW YORK (USA) -- 27 October 2014 -- In honor of International Men's Day, Bronx Fathers Taking Action is leading an interactive session for the BRONX UFT BOROUGHWIDE  PARENT SUMMIT  on Saturday, November 1, 2014  8 a.m.–3 p.m at Bronx UFT Office, 2500 Halsey Street, Bronx, NY 10461.

The workshop will focus on the role of mentoring within the Bronx community. Participants will explore the power of accountability and active participation by fathers and other paternal figures.


To register for this FREE event, please register at www.uft.org/Bronx-parent-summit.


Founded March 29th, 2012. In keeping with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr's vision of uplifting the Institution of Fatherhood, this Committee of Bronx fathers will focus pro-actively on engaging, empowering, educating and encouraging fathers.


Our objective is to enlighten and advocate for fathers in our borough and facilitate a path towards productive parenthood. Our goal is to provide resources and new relationships to reinforce fathers as positive role models. The Bronx Borough President has charged this Committee to restore the image of Fatherhood, while responsibly respecting the privilege of being a Dad!


A Message from Ruben Diaz, Bronx - “As the Bronx Borough President and a young father myself, I am concerned with the well-being of the children in our community and the involvement of our Bronx fathers. This is a crucial time for our borough, and we are moving forward to come up with a way to address and keep fathers involved in their communities. Our goal is to empower the fathers in our community and connect them with the proper resources that can help them take this important step.


BxFTA Committee Members

  • Ronald Hartridge, Co-chair
  • Felix Leo Campos, Co-chair
  • Vincent Adams
  • Kenneth Alexander
  • John Fielder
  • Rafael Fornes III
  • Jose Gonzalez
  • Theodore James
  • Andre Peterson
  • Jose Pichardo
  • Robert Powell
  • Rev Dr. Robert A. Smith Jr.

25 October, 2014

THE HONORABLE JAMES M. DeLEON TO UNVEIL "OPERATION FRESH START" INITIATIVE AT FIRST ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR MEN AND BOYS


          PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) – 25 October 2014 – Sunday, 16 November 2014 will be a historic day for several reasons. The First Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys which will bring together individuals of all faiths and denominations for the purpose of embarking on a collaborative journey to effectively address the key challenges of violence, crime, poverty, hunger, Fatherlessness, the “school-to-prison” pipeline, and intolerance will be observed on Sunday, 16 November 2014. On Sunday, 16 November 2014, The Honorable James M. DeLeon will unveil a dynamic solutions-oriented multi-tiered initiative – “Operation Fresh Start” at the City of Philadelphia’s observance of the International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys which will occur at the First Unitarian Church at 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103 from 3:00 P.M. through 7:00 P.M. The observance is being hosted by Dr. Samuel Bernard Lackey, Jr. in conjunction with the “Sunday With Sam” program at the First Unitarian Church.


         
          Judge DeLeon will provide a brief overview of the multi-faceted components of “Operation Fresh Start” which is being heralded as a national model for resolving recidivism, stabilizing communities, and helping incarcerated individuals successfully navigate the arduous journey to healing, redemption, and reintegration. During his tenure as a jurist in the Criminal Division of Philadelphia’s Municipal Court, Judge DeLeon has presided over thousands of court cases. He has served as Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division of the Philadelphia Municipal Court and is a past Chairman of the Security Committee for the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Judge DeLeon has practiced before the United States Court of International Trade, the United States Court of Military Appeals, and the United States Army Court of Review.

10 October, 2014

"CALL TO MOTHERS OF OUR SONS' INITIATIVE LAUNCHED BY USA INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY REGIONAL COORDINATORS


CONTACT:

Ms. Aleasa M. Word
Georgia (USA) Regional Coordinator – 2014 International Men’s Day

Mrs. Marie Roker-Jones
New York (USA) Regional Coordinator – 2014 International Men’s Day

  

           ATLANTA, GA (USA)10 October 2014 – When a Mother peers into the eyes of her newborn son as she holds him for the very first time, what does she feel?  Is her heart overtaken with joy?  What are her dreams for her son?  Does she find the responsibility of nurturing, protecting, guiding, and loving him as he makes his journey from childhood to manhood overwhelming?   And does she wonder how she will help her son mature into a purpose-driven and spiritually grounded Man?    Helping to raise a manchild in the Millennium is a daunting task.  While we know the important role that Fathers play in the lives of Our Sons, Mothers, too, play an important role.  Mothers are Our Sons first female role models.  Their interactions and relationships with their Mothers – be they positive or negative – will be a subliminally overriding factor in their decision making when it comes to choosing a wife, the manner in which they parent their children, and the career path they will embark upon. 

           And that is why Ms. Aleasa M. Word, Georgia (USA) Regional Coordinator – 2014 International Men’s Day and Mrs. Marie Roker-Jones, New York (USA) Regional Coordinator – 2014 International Men’s Day – both of whom are Mothers of Sons – have launched a “Call To The Mothers Of Our Sons” Initiative as a component of 2014 International Men’s Day which will be observed in 80 nations on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 under the theme,
Working Together For Men and Boys.  The Initiative will take the form of an Interactive Forum for Mothers of Sons throughout our global village to share their dreams and fears for their sons and to work collectively to effectively address some of the key challenges that their sons face.
    
               “Mothers in the United States, Canada, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Australia, and Asia all dream the same dreams for their sons.  They want their sons to be healthy, happy, and successful.  They their sons to have a better life and live in a world that is emotionally and spiritually vibrant and safe.    Mothers throughout our global village all have the same questions.  ‘How do we protect our sons?  How do we keep them safe?  What kind of Man will my son be?’  The ‘Mothers Of Our Sons’ Initiative is about helping Mothers of Our Sons – throughout our global village – find answers to these questions.  Mrs. Roker-Jones and I are mothers of sons.   Not a day goes by when we are not asking ourselves these same questions,” remarked Ms. Word.

           
             Founded in 1999 by Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D., a faculty member in the History Department in the University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, Thought Leader on Gender Issues, and author, International Men’s Day celebrates the contributions and selfless sacrifices that Men make to our families, our communities, and our world.  International Men’s Day shares a 48-hour partnership with Universal Children’s Day which is observed worldwide on 20th November of each year.  For information about International Men’s Day, visit its official website at www.imd-global.org.

              For further information about the “Mothers Of Our Sons” Initiative, contact Ms. Aleasa M. Word at: allergywords@gmail.com or Mrs. Marie Roker-Jones at: mroker@raisinggreatmen.com

05 October, 2014

BARE HLLL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY TO OBSERVE FIRST ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR MEN AND BOYS ON SUNDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2014


MALONE, NEW YORK (USA) -- 5 October 2014 -- The historic and First Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys will be observed in a correctional facility. Observance of the First Annual International Day of Prayer on Sunday, 16 November 2014 will be observed at Bare Hill Correctional Facility located in Malone, New York under the leadership of the International Men's Day Empowerment Coordinator Mr. Carry Greaves. Mr. Greaves is also orchestrating an observance of 2014 International Men's Day on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at Bare Correctional Facility. Bare Correctional Facility will join institutions, organizations, and individuals in 80 nations in observing 2014 International Men's Day on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 under the theme "Working Together for Men and Boys". 

 Calendar Year 2014 marks the correctional institution's second observance of International Men's Day as part of the International Men's Day "Healing and Repatriation" Initiative launched in 2012. Bare Hill Correctional Facility's observance of 2014 International Men's Day is being coordinated by an Incarcerated Father who has served since 2012 as the Empowerment Coordinator for International Men's Day at the invitation of the Founder of International Men's Day, Jerome Teeluckingsingh, Ph.D. The International Men's Day "Healing and Repatriation" Initiative was inaugurated in 2012 by the United States Coordinator for International Men's Day and Chair of the 2012-2022 International Men's Day Ten Year Plan Committee, Diane A. Sears. In 2012, for the first time, International Men’s Day was observed in a correctional facility – the Clinton Correctional Facility located in Dannemora, New York. On Monday, 19 November 2012, an American correctional facility joined individuals, institutions, and organizations around the world in observing 2012 International Men’s Day under the theme, “Helping Men and Boys Live Longer, Happier, Healthier Lives”. 

The success of the inaugural observance of 2012 International Men’s Day at the Clinton Correctional Facility spawned the creation of the International Men’s Day “Healing and Repatriation Initiative” in January 2013. The International Men’s DaY “Healing and Repatriation Initiative” promotes the observance of International Men’s Day in all correctional facilities throughout the United States. A number of International Men’s Day Coordinators in other nations are considering implementing thIs initiative in their respective countries. Observance of International Men’s Day at correctional facilities can take the form of workshops and discussion groups about issues that are in alignment with the theme of International Men’s Day. So what is the International Men’s Day “Healing and Repatriation” Initiative all about? It is about providing approximately 2,500,000 souls in the United States who are incarcerated in the United States with an opportunity to participate in a worldwide event which encourages them to engage in critical thinking about issues that affect them, their families and loved ones, and the communities in which they have lived and will one day return to. It is about helping them to see themselves as ‘part of a whole’. It is one of the many ‘first steps’ that must be taken to heal and “reconnect” spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally approximately 700,000 souls who are released from American prisons every year and place them on the path to successful reintegration into society. 

 For further information about the International Men’s Day “Healing and Repatriation Initiative”, send an e-mail to: insearchoffatherhood@gmail.com.