Some 600 men showed up to support students with absent fathers at a Texas middle school’s Breakfast with Dads event after just 50 volunteers were sought.
This heartwarming act of kindness occurred last month at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas.
The middle school has a population of nearly 900 students and about 90 per cent of those pupils come from low-income families.
About 150 male students, ages 11 to 13, signed up for the Breakfast with Dads event, which was held on December 14, 2017, but Kristina Dove, the senior partner relations manager at Big Thought, a youth development nonprofit, wasn’t sure if every student would have a father present during the program.
‘Please Share! Men Needed! On next Thursday, December 14th at 8:30 AM at Dr. Billy Earle Dade Middle School we will host ‘Breakfast with Dads’ the reality of a great event like this is alot of our kids will not have a Dad present,’ Dove wrote on Facebook on December 4.
‘But there is nothing like having a male present in the form of a mentor. We are [in] need of at least 50 or more additional male mentors who can devote 1 hour of their Wednesday morning next week to this cause,’ she added.
And on the day of the program, event organizers were overcome with emotion when 600 men showed up to support their students.
‘When a young person sees someone other than their teacher take interest in them, it inspires them. That’s what we want to see happen,’ the Rev Donald Parish Jr., pastor of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church and the event organizer, told the Dallas Morning News.
Jason Rodriguez, the assistant chief of police for the Dallas Independent School District Police Department, tweeted about the event.
‘Words cannot describe the impact mentoring youth can have on both you and your mentee. Powerful to see a community of fellow men and fathers come together to wrap their arms around or young men. Thank you for having me out,’ Rodriguez wrote.
He posted photos of himself with four students smiling from ear-to-ear. Rodriguez is also seen showing one of the young boys how to tie a necktie.
Stephanie Drenka, a Dallas photographer and blogger, gave details of the event on her website.
‘I was privileged to photograph the event at Kristina’s request. It was a miracle any of the pictures came out in focus, because I could barely see clearly through the tears streaming down my face and fogged-up glasses,’ she recalled on her blog.
‘I will never forget witnessing the young students surrounded by supportive community members. There were so many volunteers, that at times I saw young men huddled in the center of 4-5 mentors,’ Drenka wrote.
‘The look of awe- even disbelief- in students’ eyes as they made their way through the crowd of “Dads” was astonishing,’ she added.
According to Drenka, Jamil ‘The Tie Man’ Tucker led the auditorium in a hands-on icebreaker activity.
He talked about learning how to tie a necktie as a rite of passage some young men never experience.
Meanwhile, mentors and fathers handed out ties to the students and helped them ‘perfect their half-Windsor knot’.
The opportunity gap in Dallas has reached a crucial point, with more than 30 per cent of children living in poverty while more affluent areas of the city continue to prosper, according to Drenka.
Studies have shown that the presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life can help overcome the negative effects of adverse childhood experiences.
‘We hope this event was only the beginning of a movement in Dallas to ensure every student has access to mentorship,’ Drenka said.
The moving program has not only touched the lives of those who participated, but it also made its rounds on the internet as several people on social media said the inspirational event ‘brought tears’ to their eyes.