One of the most important days of my life was when I learned that I was going to be a father.
It was news that brought a sense of excitement and anxiety. Being responsible for someone else – another me – was a daunting responsibility.
One of my greatest disappointments, however, was the failure of my marriage with my daughter’s mother. As a child of divorce, I understood its devastating effects and the permanent scars that children of divorce wear as badges of honor. Somehow children of divorce are different. It’s a difference that I never wanted my daughter to experience.
After the divorce, I found myself in a brotherhood of men, who no longer were viewed as traditional parents. I learned firsthand the stigma that divorced fathers faced. I experienced the painful separation from my child. Worse yet, there were few, if any, resources for fathers who wanted to maintain positive and productive relationships with their children. Fathers, many times undeservedly, were characterized as deadbeat dads. In many instances, they were deprived of access to their children and punished for exercising their rights as parents.
PROUD Fathers was born from a determination to provide resources to all fathers who were purposeful in developing positive and productive relationships with their children regardless of their status as custodial parents. In 201X, I founded PROUD. Fathers, Inc., in which PROUD stands for Protector, Resourceful, Ongoing, Understanding, and Dedicated. In March 2013, PROUD Fathers’ genesis came from a Fatherhood Conference. The conference was the first of its kind in the state of North Carolina with over 200 fathers in attendance for a day of workshops. My good friend, NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, was the keynote speaker. On April 5, 2014, PROUD Fathers hosted its first annual fatherhood conference. This conference was special because I was presented with President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award.
Mr. Thabiti Boone, White House Champion for the President’s Fatherhood Initiative pinned me with the Presidential volunteer pin and presented me with a certificate. The award acknowledged my years of volunteer service and mentoring with the fatherhood and mentoring initiative in the state of North Carolina.
PROUD Fathers, Inc. exists to elevate, enhance, and encourage fathers to be better dads, husbands, and citizens. PROUD Fathers, Inc. seeks to provide resources to fathers that educate and enlighten. PROUD Fathers, Inc. endeavors to sponsor events that facilitate opportunities for parents and children to engage in meaningful and purposeful interactions. PROUD Fathers, Inc. was developed by a dad to support dads. It’s just that simple.