By Angie Hayes
The Truth Reporter
The Lucas County Fatherhood Coalition: Ignite The Change Event at Mott Branch Library on June 15 continued the group’s Fatherhood Week with an exchange of ideas. The event offered knowledge, information and support to encourage growth for the fathers in our environment. Various speakers provided information and support by sharing their individual experiences, skills and motivation.
“There is no cost to the county to do this,” said Avis Files, co-chair of the Coalition. “A couple of months ago this came out and years ago, they did this whole project in 2013. And we just kind of talked about it and thought it would be good for us to do this again. So, we look in our community, to do a county assessment. So, we are still in the process of doing the assessment. I need two hundred fathers to be surveyed. Because that’s where we get good data. Two hundred is a good sample size, to be able to say, ‘This is what our county needs.’ So, we are still working on that. We want to produce that data for you; so that you will be able to see and know what fathers are saying about what they need help with. And again, we are being intentional about serving and working with African American fathers.”
“What we talk about today, we want some action with as well,” Files continued. “So, we needed to develop a county leadership team; the interesting part and the good part about our leadership team is that we already had it going. The Lucas County Fatherhood Coalition is getting bigger and bigger. It started out as just a coalition of people; but now we have every single area. You’ll be able to see that every area in Lucas County is represented. If you are interested in joining us and being on the Coalition, please let us know.”
The afternoon’s panelists and speakers included: Christina Rodriguez, executive director of Mom’s House; Bob Jordan, Pathway, Inc. CFO; David Kontour, Coalition co-chair and John Jones, president and CEO of HOPE Toledo
“Every social ill, we have had conversations in this community about social ills: children not learning how to read. Children having issues can be solved with one word: one person: Dad/Daddy! In this community I want us to practice something. I am going to ask everyone to stop saying this and it will be helpful, and it will change the trajectory of children’s lives. Don’t use the term baby mama or baby daddy. When we say baby daddy, we just mean ‘he over there being nothing’ and when we say baby mama, ‘she ain’t nothing.’ When we say that and our children hear that and we continue to say things like that, then we become the perpetuators of what we are experiencing in our community. So please, as you work together, when you hear somebody say baby daddy…uh-huh no that’s co-parent! Let’s change our dialogue, lets change our approach because if we do that, that alone will change our community,” added Files.
“It’s important to have fathers involved so we’re running the program: Dads Matter” Christina Rodriguez, executive director, Mom’s House. “We have started pouring into Dads; we have to invest our time.”
“Dispelling the MYTH of black fathers! Black dads are more engaged than counterparts,” Jones noted during his speech. “I am a firm believer, words matter: ‘We co-parent together!” Dad’s matter. We got to work together….support Mom…support Dad.”