A call for volunteers was published on social media, and when the day came for the event, more than 600 men showed up to help and mentor the boys.
Hundreds of volunteers man up for dads’ breakfast at south Dallas middle school
Back in December of 2017, the Site-Based decision making team of Dr. Billy Earl Dade Middle School, south Dallas, ran into some difficulty when planning their annual “Breakfast with Dads” event. Dade’s community liaison Ellyn Favors mentioned that student participation was low due to young men not having a father/father-figure available to attend the event. Children’s advocate Kristina Chäadé Dove, whose serves on the team, decided to post a call for volunteers on social media in the hope of finding 50 male mentors to accompany the middle schoolers. Within days of the post (which was shared more than 125 times), Dallas Morning News published an article relaying the message. In the end, more than 600 men signed up for the event.
“When a young person sees someone other than their teacher take interest in them, it inspires them.”
Something somewhat extraordinary happened in December of 2017 at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas, The Washington Post reported at the time.
The school — with a student population of nearly 900, about 90% from low-income families — planned to host its first “Breakfast with Dads,” according to the Dallas Morning News. About 150 male students, ages 11 to 13, signed up. However, event organisers were concerned that some would attend without a male figure at their side, so they put out a call for volunteers who could serve as mentors.
“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 organiser, told the Morning News.
A call for volunteers by children’s advocate Kristina Chäadé Dove — who has served on what is called a site-based decision-making team for the middle school — was published on social media in early December. Continued below…
The unexpected influx of interest led the team to move the event from the cafeteria into the gym
Stephanie Drenka, a Dallas photographer and blogger who works with Dove at Big Thought, a nonprofit organisation that works with partners across the city to provide creative learning programs for young people, chronicled the event in words and photos. She wrote:
Back in December, the team ran into some difficulty when planning their annual “Breakfast with Dads” event. Dade’s community liaison Ellyn Favors mentioned that student participation was low due to young men not having a father/father-figure available to attend the event. Kristina decided to post a call for volunteers on Facebook in the hope of finding 50 male mentors to accompany the middle schoolers…
The unexpected influx of interest led the team to move the event from the cafeteria into the gymnasium so they could house more guests. Kristina engaged the community again in getting volunteers to help with setup and check-in. Team members from Big Thought, the Office of Cultural Affairs, and even Kristina’s personal friends showed up alongside the male mentors to make the event possible…
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. The look of awe- even disbelief- in students’ eyes as they made their way through the crowd of “Dads” was astonishing.
Jamil “The Tie Man” Tucker led the auditorium in a hands-on icebreaker activity. 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.
The sight of a necktie may forever bring a tear to my eye.
All images accompanying this article by Stephanie Drenka.
Be A steady hand: committed to restoring hope in the lives of young people
Stephanie Drenka writes: We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for #BreakfastWithDads. But we don’t want this story to end here in Dallas! Breakfast with Dads is more than one event… It’s a movement.
We’ve created a Facebook community to share stories not only of Dade Middle School’s Breakfast with Dads, but other inspiring community efforts around the world, and this moment has led to the founding a new non-profit and movement called Be A Steady Hand (beasteadyhand.org), whose core beliefs and aims are:
- Mentoring: We believe in investing time in every young person we come in contact with. We ask our mentors to have 2 in person contacts with their mentee.
- Exposing: We believe in physically exposing our young people to opportunities that will inspire them for a lifetime. We accomplish that through tours of colleges, major corporations, and any places that will spark their internal flame. Additionally, as we are nationally known for our “Breakfast With Dads” events, we look to host exciting and informative in school assemblies.
- Sports: We believe that sports is a great teaching tool. We will utilize team, individual and e-sports to further the growth and development of our young people.
- Caring: It is impossible to interact with these young people and not address direct economic, mental, and social needs. So we formed A Steady Hand Cares to address these area.
- Collaborating: As we expand across America, we know that no one organization can help every young person. We are always actively looking for like minded partners to help achieve the collective goal.
BIG THOUGHT: EMPOWERING YOUTH, CLOSING THE OPPORTUNITY GAP.
Big Thought equips youth in marginalised communities to imagine and create their best lives and world. The secret sauce that makes our work uniquely effective is the powerful combination of our social and emotional focus, experiential learning, community-centered partnerships, equity lens and future focus. Learn more.