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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 2, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFATHERS' NIGHT OUT CONVERSATIONS TO CONTINUE

FATHERS' NIGHT OUT CONVERSATIONS TO CONTINUE

It didn't add up to the Thousand Man Meetings that had been envisioned, but Fathers' Night Out amounted to hundreds, maybe thousands, of significant steps.
Between 50 and 60 groups of men — as few as four in some instances, as many as 20-plus in at least one case — met in homes, restaurants and other places Wednesday night to talk about fatherhood in the Virgin Islands community.
The meetings were sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, under the umbrella of its Fatherhood Collaborative 2000. The initial plan had been for 100 men each to invite 10 others to come together and talk. Invited to host groups were fathers, father figures, stepfathers, godfathers, grandfathers and fathers-to-be.
Those approached about serving as hosts covered a broad spectrum in the community, Community Foundation executive director Dee Baecher-Brown said – "from CEO's to stay-at-home dads, people in messenger positions, white collar/blue collar types of occupations, from all walks of life. One group was very young, most people in their early 20s and teens; in another, everybody was a grandfather." At least one group, she said, conversed in Spanish.
"One of the real important themes is that responsible fatherhood is a concern within all segments of the community," she said.
At what may or may not have been a typical gathering, an overall concern for the children of the Virgin Islands and plans for helping young men prepare for manhood dominated the discussion.
It is difficult to distinguish between cause and effect in terms of what brought people out for the meetings, the five participants at this particular one agreed: Do the more active members of the community come forth when called upon, or is there an undercurrent of concern not regularly expressed that showed itself for Fathers' Night Out? Regardless what had motivated them, the five shared a commitment to outreach and interaction.
All agreed that expectations of government help with the individual problems of child raising are misplaced. "Even if you just talk to one kid for one day" was a concept brought to the table's discussion over and over, as was the idea that "Every bit of positive influence is needed, no matter how small."
Successes, shortfalls and tragedies were shared. The importance of after-school programs, proactive intervention and counseling in the schools, and challenges outside of school were discussed. One participant, a top executive of a major local concern, suggested a need for higher expectations of children.
A total of 64 men had confirmed to the Community Foundation that they would host meetings, and between 50 and 60 did so Wednesday night on St. Thomas and St. John, while others had a conflict but planned to convene gatherings later this week or next week. There was at least one meeting on St. Croix and perhaps as many as three, Baecher-Brown said.
Each group host was asked to submit a report to the foundation. A number of reports were turned in already Thursday, she said, and "many of them have said their group would like to meet again for further discussion."
Once all the reports are received and reviewed, the foundation will put togther a report that will go back to all participants summarizing the points covered, the types of suggestions made, and the organizations and initiatives known to be addressing fatherhood issues in the community.
That came as no surprise to Baecher-Brown. She said the Fathers' Night Out idea was modeled on a one-shot gathering that was held two years ago on St. John and evolved into a group that has continued to meet ever since. "In many ways, they inspired the Fathers' Night Out initiative because of what had developed out of a single meeting," she said.
One of the most important effects of Fathers' Night Out, one group observer said, may be the connections established or strengthened among the men at any given meeting by way of getting to know that other members of the community share their concern for children, and other hands and hearts are there available to share to load.
"It was not meant to be and will not be a one-shot deal," Baecher-Brown said.
For those who did not attend meetings Wednesday but are interested in participating, she said, the foundation will serve as a clearinghouse to connect them with gatherings to come. Those interested can telephone 774-6031, fax to 774-3852 or e-mail to dbrowncfvi@att.net.

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It didn't add up to the Thousand Man Meetings that had been envisioned, but Fathers' Night Out amounted to hundreds, maybe thousands, of significant steps.
Between 50 and 60 groups of men -- as few as four in some instances, as many as 20-plus in at least one case -- met in homes, restaurants and other places Wednesday night to talk about fatherhood in the Virgin Islands community.
The meetings were sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, under the umbrella of its Fatherhood Collaborative 2000. The initial plan had been for 100 men each to invite 10 others to come together and talk. Invited to host groups were fathers, father figures, stepfathers, godfathers, grandfathers and fathers-to-be.
Those approached about serving as hosts covered a broad spectrum in the community, Community Foundation executive director Dee Baecher-Brown said – "from CEO's to stay-at-home dads, people in messenger positions, white collar/blue collar types of occupations, from all walks of life. One group was very young, most people in their early 20s and teens; in another, everybody was a grandfather." At least one group, she said, conversed in Spanish.
"One of the real important themes is that responsible fatherhood is a concern within all segments of the community," she said.
At what may or may not have been a typical gathering, an overall concern for the children of the Virgin Islands and plans for helping young men prepare for manhood dominated the discussion.
It is difficult to distinguish between cause and effect in terms of what brought people out for the meetings, the five participants at this particular one agreed: Do the more active members of the community come forth when called upon, or is there an undercurrent of concern not regularly expressed that showed itself for Fathers' Night Out? Regardless what had motivated them, the five shared a commitment to outreach and interaction.
All agreed that expectations of government help with the individual problems of child raising are misplaced. "Even if you just talk to one kid for one day" was a concept brought to the table's discussion over and over, as was the idea that "Every bit of positive influence is needed, no matter how small."
Successes, shortfalls and tragedies were shared. The importance of after-school programs, proactive intervention and counseling in the schools, and challenges outside of school were discussed. One participant, a top executive of a major local concern, suggested a need for higher expectations of children.
A total of 64 men had confirmed to the Community Foundation that they would host meetings, and between 50 and 60 did so Wednesday night on St. Thomas and St. John, while others had a conflict but planned to convene gatherings later this week or next week. There was at least one meeting on St. Croix and perhaps as many as three, Baecher-Brown said.
Each group host was asked to submit a report to the foundation. A number of reports were turned in already Thursday, she said, and "many of them have said their group would like to meet again for further discussion."
Once all the reports are received and reviewed, the foundation will put togther a report that will go back to all participants summarizing the points covered, the types of suggestions made, and the organizations and initiatives known to be addressing fatherhood issues in the community.
That came as no surprise to Baecher-Brown. She said the Fathers' Night Out idea was modeled on a one-shot gathering that was held two years ago on St. John and evolved into a group that has continued to meet ever since. "In many ways, they inspired the Fathers' Night Out initiative because of what had developed out of a single meeting," she said.
One of the most important effects of Fathers' Night Out, one group observer said, may be the connections established or strengthened among the men at any given meeting by way of getting to know that other members of the community share their concern for children, and other hands and hearts are there available to share to load.
"It was not meant to be and will not be a one-shot deal," Baecher-Brown said.
For those who did not attend meetings Wednesday but are interested in participating, she said, the foundation will serve as a clearinghouse to connect them with gatherings to come. Those interested can telephone 774-6031, fax to 774-3852 or e-mail to dbrowncfvi@att.net.