About a month ago, educators at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas, Texas realized they had a problem on their hands. Some 150 students had signed up for the school’s first annual “Breakfast with Dads” event, but the organizers were afraid they wouldn’t have enough male mentors on hand. Proving that social media has the power to do incredible things, the school ended up with more than 600 volunteers after putting out a call on Facebook asking for just 50.
As the Dallas Morning News reported, children’s advocate Kristina Chäadé Dove took to social media a week before the December 14 event, asking men in the community to give up an hour of their Thursday morning. The post subsequently went viral and an outpouring of responses came in.
Please Share! Men Needed!On next Thursday, December 14th at 8:30 AM at Dr. Billy Earle Dade Middle School we will…
“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 a lot of our kids will not have a Dad present,” she wrote. “But there is nothing like having a male present in the form of a mentor.”
The event’s organizer, Rev. Donald Parish Jr. of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, echoed Dove’s sentiments, telling the Dallas Morning News that the mere presence of a father figure could help put the students of the middle school—90 percent of whom come form low-income households—on the right path.
“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,” Parish said. “These kids need all the support they can get to be successful.”
Organizers received some 500 responses prior to the event, and when the day finally arrived, more than 600 men showed up to spend time with the boys. Jason Rodriguez, the assistant chief of police for the Dallas Independent School District Police Department, tweeted photos from the “powerful” morning and thanked the school for having him.
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. pic.twitter.com/2fTicFpzws
— Jason Rodriguez (@DISDPD_AChiefJR) December 14, 2017
Dallas-based photographer and blogger Stephanie Drenka was on hand to take pictures and shared on her website that “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.”
“I will never forget witnessing the young students surrounded by supportive community members,” Drenka wrote. “There were so many volunteers, that at times I saw young men huddled in the center of 4-5 mentors. The look of awe- even disbelief- in students’ eyes as they made their way through the crowd of ‘Dads’ was astonishing.”
The breakfast included icebreakers like learning how to tie and tie and one-on-one time for the students and their mentors to get to know each other. Drenka said the man behind the ties, Jamil “The Tie Man” Tucker, spoke of what an important milestone the seemingly mundane skill is for young men but many don’t have anyone to teach them how.
“He spoke of learning how to tie a tie as a rite of passage some young men never experience. Mentors handed out ties to the eager students and helped them perfect their half-Windsor knot,” Drenka recalled. “The sight of a necktie may forever bring a tear to my eye.”
(H/T: Daily Mail)