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Boris Kodjoe talks about his experiences at Project Fatherhood’s 6th Annual Fatherhood Solution Conference.
Project Fatherhood provides guidance and opens dialogue for men across Los Angeles County
Imagine being the father of two children and you’re on the outside looking in on a stepfather anchored in the abyss of gangs and a mother too scared to do anything about it. Project Fatherhood gives men the tools to help parent their kids and step in just as Lorenzo Carter did with his kids.
“Their mother’s boyfriend was involved in gangs and I have my kids coming to me saying that he has a gun and that their mom is scared of him,” said Lorenzo Carter, 50, one of the recipients of the Project Fatherhood’s All Star Father Award. “I had to get my kids out of this situation.
Project Fatherhood is an organization created by Children’s Institute aimed at helping men become better fathers. Their mission is “Strengthening Relationships between Fathers and their At-Risk Children.” Weekly meetings and workshops are held in different locations throughout the Los Angeles area that give fathers a sense of direction. There are a total of eight locations, including Torrance, South L.A., Westlake, Koreatown, Echo Park, Long Beach, Downtown and West Hollywood.
“I just love it, there’s nothing I would change about it. I’m probably going to go for the rest of my life,” said Chris McCloud, 41, another of the recipients of the 2013 Project Fatherhood All Star Father Awards. “It becomes the man’s AA.”
Project Fatherhood partners with is Homeboy Industries, an organization that provides high-risk, formerly gang-involved men with training to be better fathers. Some of their services include job training in culinary arts, education and mental health programs.
“Homeboy Industries has changed my life because it’s a place of hope,” said Le-Von Bean, 34. “It has made me a better person, son and father, and made it so that I can financially take care of my kids.”
The work of Homeboy Industries is not only shown through the fathers in the program, but also their children.
“One day everyone was telling me that I had to come see something. I go down to see my son talking to Father Greg about getting a job at Homeboy Industries,” said Bean. “They told him that he was too young, but it made me proud as a dad.”
Project Fatherhood’s other initiatives include an annual fatherhood solution conference, which started six years ago. There, men can come and open a dialogue on the difficulties and triumphs of fatherhood. This year’s conference, which was held on Friday, June 14, included actors Boris Kodjoe and Larenz Tate as the keynote speakers along with workshops and a performance by Ralph Harris, who performed his one-man-play, “MANish Boy.”
“This conference is about good people helping men to be active and present fathers,” said Kodjoe.
The workshops addressed issues such as men of color dealing with the court system and how programs such as welfare and the Department of Children and Family Services often times cater to mothers and forget about a father’s role in the child’s life.
“The problem is systematic,” said Donald E. Grant, Jr., PysD, one of the workshop speakers. “We, as professionals, need to work to engage dads so that we can heal the world.”
Project Fatherhood was established in 1996 and has since worked with over 9,000 fathers and 12,000 children across Los Angeles County. It opens opportunities for conversation and solution to the problem of absentee fathers. To get involved with Project Fatherhood call (213) 260 – 7600 or visit www.projectfatherhood.org. For more information about Homeboy Industries visit www.homeboyindustries.org or call (323) 526 – 1254.