School Requests 50 Volunteer “Dads” For “Breakfast With Dads” Day. Instead, 600 Volunteers Show Up!
It’s a longstanding tradition for schools to hold special parent-child events, like father-daughter dances and breakfasts with moms. But when a child’s parent isn’t a part of their lives, these events can leave some children feeling singled out and forgotten about.
The Dr. Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas, Texas hosts an annual “Breakfast with Dads” event. The event encourages fathers and father figures to engage with and interact with the school’s students. It’s particularly important to the school, since over 77 percent of the students are “at-risk” students. In turn, the school focuses on encouraging parent engagement among the students.
But as this year’s event approached, school principal Tracie Washington began to worry. Some kids weren’t signing up for the event, and Washington suspected they weren’t signing up because they didn’t have a father to invite.
Kristina Dove, a community member who works at the nonprofit Big Thought, suggested that the school put out a call on Facebook to see if they could drum up some volunteers for the event. Male volunteers could be volunteer dads, and that way all of the students would have someone special with them for the breakfast.
Dove made a post on her personal Facebook page, but then a friend suggested she make the post public so it would reach more people. Once Dove changed the post, it was shared over 120 times during the two weeks leading up to the event.
Dove had been hoping to get 50 volunteers for the breakfast, which took place on December 14th. Instead, she got 600.
Archie Nettles, an Army veteran and motivational speaker, was one of the many men who saw Dove’s post. Nettles explained that while he doesn’t have any kids of his own, he felt compelled to attend the event to support the kids who are without a dad or mentor of their own.
Dove says that when the students entered the auditorium and saw the 600 volunteers there waiting, they were shocked. But that shock quickly turned to excitement, as the kids were eager to talk to the men and ask them questions.
The breakfast began with opening remarks from the principal and event organizers. Then, Jamil “Tie Man” Tucker took over and led an icebreaker activity. During the activity, the men helped to teach the students how to tie a tie.
The breakfast led to lasting connections, too. After the breakfast, a student told Dove that he wasn’t even planning to go to the event, but thanks to the volunteers, not only was he able to attend, but he was leaving with a mentor. The student had found an adult who was willing to invest in him – there’s no better gift than that.
Given the massive success of the call for volunteers, Dove and her co-worker, Stephanie Drenka, hope to keep the Dallas men engaged with community kids on a more consistent basis. They’ve created a Facebook page about the effort, and hope that their success can be replicated nationwide.
Dove says that the students now know that people care. The fact that 600 volunteers came out just for them is evidence of that, and the volunteers inspired the students.
According to Dove, just knowing that people care about them can change students’ lives. Seeing how the story of the breakfast event has quickly spread, Dove believes there are many more people out there willing to answer a call to action to help today’s youth. Dove notes that if we can create more clear opportunities for volunteers, they will respond.
Nettles also hopes that the breakfast event isn’t just a one-time occurrence, but the beginning of a movement. He hopes that other men and women will be inspired to get involved and to help today’s youth.
( H/T today.com )