Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies fatherhood mentoring program holds eighth annual graduation program: ‘There’s No Hood like FATHERHOOD!’
By Charles Moseley
There is an African proverb which states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” These words of wisdom are also applicable when describing a special fatherhood mentoring program sponsored by Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) here in Broward County. Recently, 23 fathers participated in the eighth annual fatherhood mentoring program graduation ceremony on Jan. 27, 2016 at Joseph C. Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale.
The graduates participated in a 12-week program designed to help them become better equipped to face the challenges of fatherhood. Volunteers from all walks of life joined together to share information and resources which program participants then in turn could apply to their particular situations as fathers.
Trecia Matthews-Hosein, director of Program Services, HMHB, outlined why family members and other well wishers were on hand to celebrate an evening filled with high emotions as each fatherhood mentee was recognized for completing the program.
“We’re very excited to be here to celebrate 21 great fathers that are graduating tonight from our Fatherhood Mentor-ship Program. It has been a wonderful 12 weeks of work-shops, educational activities for fathers, supporting them to be better dads.
“We invite the community to come out and volunteer and share information with fathers in the community. We’re definitely trying to raise up men to become better fathers and be more committed fathers for their children and also financial resources are always welcome,” she added.
Fort Lauderdale Vice-Mayor Robert McKenzie (District 3), is a strong advocate of the pro-gram and has been personally involved as a coach for the last three years and provided the keynote speech last year, was on hand to lend his support to this year’s graduates.
“It’s very important that we reconnect these fathers with their families and getting them involved in their kid’s lives. A friend of mine brought me to the program three years ago and I’ve been involved ever since. It’s not about relationships that may not be working; it’s all about establishing a relationship with their children.”
The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Fatherhood Mentorship Graduating Class of 2016 included the following; Thomas Albury III, Paul Black-man, Ellie Grett, Condero Daniels, Jeffrey Duncan, Tim Fuller, Ronnie Griffin, Travis Harrison, La’tre Helton, Simeon Jenkins, Ricardo Madin, Robert McBride, Elkivano Pierre, Rohan Ruddock, Enos Smith, Troy Smith, Antwon Striggles, Nathaniel Straw-bridge, Adrian Taylor, Pernell Taylor, D’vontae Thomas, Nick Webster, and Dennis Williams.
Several graduates of the program and their families expressed their gratitude to the volunteer coaches and mentors who offered their time and to those professionals representing companies and organizations for providing helpful information to assist fathers who participated in the program.
Fatherhood Mentoring graduate Thomas Albury III has five children and is working toward advancing his career as well as “being a championship father to my kids.”
“This program helped me out a lot, even though I thought I already knew a lot. I was introduced to the program by my father. I gained a lot of information from the program that I didn’t know about being a fat-her and how we should treat our kids as we bring them up.
“The first advice I’d give dads in the community is to come join us here at Carter Park 6 to 8pm on Wednesdays because the information is valuable, the resources are great and it keeps you on the right track,” Albury stated.
Deangelo Foy also was a part of the 2016 Fatherhood Mentoring Class. He heard about the program from word of mouth.
“I heard about the program through a mutual friend, Ms. Teresa Patterson, who introduced me to the program. I’ve been in the program for close to nine months now and it has been very beneficial. It helped me change as a man, a family man, and a father by gaining insights for myself and other fathers as well listening to their struggles and their passion for their kids.”
Emily Agisto said that her fiancé Ronnie Griffin has been helping her out with the family. “Joining the program has inspired him. His attitude and the way he looks at life is better,” said the mother of two.
Michele Jenkins’ husband Simeon Jenkins is a member of the 2016 Graduating Class. The couple has three children. She came out to celebrate with her husband and her brother-in-law, both of whom graduated from the program.
“Both my husband and brother-in-law were already good fathers but after attending the program they became exceptional fathers.”
Samuel Brown, program manager for HMHB Fatherhood Program, said that the program offered a hands-on approach which met the dads in a number of practical ways, offering professional assistance in the areas of law applicable to their situations along with networking opportunities as well.
“The Fatherhood Program is for fathers in the community to step up and gain resources, a brotherhood by meeting once a week and listening to various presenters throughout the community; whether it’s child support, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), different lawyers and companies that offer employment opportunities and starting a small business. Basically we deal with different issues they may encounter in their day-to-day lives.”
The program also featured coaches and mentors including Thomas Albury, Rasheed Baaith, Vernon Dooling, Lenroy Ellis, Lennox George, Jimmie Habersham, Robert Hughes, George Martos, Cedric Patterson, Joe Redmond, Ken Richards, Daniel Singleton, Howard White, Ron Osbourne-Williams, and Anthony Wright.
Coach Joe Redmond and Vern Dooling volunteered their time as coaches and mentors calling on their own personal and professional expertise offering advice on what a good father is supposed to do while raising a family.
Coach Redmond has mentored young men throughout his entire professional career at both the high school and collegiate level. He shared some of his insights as a father and mentor in the program, lending his special skill set in the development of young men into productive citizens.
“I’m here tonight as a coach under the auspices of the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies organization’s initiatives. I’ve been working with fathers all my life in some aspect. I was asked to come out by one of my former players at Dillard High School, Sam Brown, who is one of the administrators of the program. This is somewhat of a tearjerker because for some of these young men, it may be the first time they’ve had an opportunity to walk across a stage and done anything positive that they can feel good about.
“This is an attempt to make them self-sufficient. And not just being fathers who’ve abandoned their families but becoming responsible fathers. We call this “The Hood” and this is the best hood they could ever be in – fatherhood,” added Coach Redmond.
Vern Dooling is also a coach for the HMHB Fatherhood Mentoring Program who gained some insights which he used to help him become a better father while helping others to do the same.
“I got involved personally because when I grew up I didn’t have my father in my life. It gave me an opportunity to come out and share with some fathers about the important role of being a father and also learned some techniques myself that I needed in my own household a