Fathers in the Park held their fifth event Sunday. The organization focuses on helping fathers get involved and stay involved in their kids’ lives.
The group has met every other week in Benson Park since June, and they’ve already had a big impact on helping men be more involved with their kids.
“A lot of our gang problems, and a lot of our different issues that we face with poverty and unemployment, and all kinds of different issues, lack of education, a lot of times comes down to not having a father in the home,” said Ronnie Alexander, director of Fathers in the Park.
The events are free and open to the public. Food is provided, and each week has a theme. This week’s theme was “Family Reunion” and included hot dogs, ribs, sack races, a tug of war contest, and more.
“We might not necessarily have the same last name, but we’re all family at the end of the day. No matter where you come from, what section of the city you come from,” said Alexander.
The organization also provides services such as legal assistance, therapy, and education to fathers who want to be involved with their children.
“We’re trying to create a place where men that might not be in their children’s lives, can come out, they can get some resources, they can get some help to put themselves back where they belong,” Alexander said.
Outreach and education chair Josh Ginsburg said the organization is all about fathers helping each other.
“I’ve seen already upstanding and participating fathers become more fulfilled because of the fellowship that we have here,” said Ginsburg.
Ginsburg reaches out to fathers that aren’t yet a part of their child’s life either because they haven’t tried or because they have tried and face obstacles.
“What we’re trying to do here is bring not only the community together, but hold ourselves accountable to be there for our children,” said Ginsburg.
And it’s not just men that are benefitting. Single moms are invited to bring their kids to interact with a positive male role model.
“We encourage the single mothers to come out too, and then we team the single mothers, their children up, with a mentor or a buddy for the day, and then they can actually have that one-on-one with a positive male role model,” said Alexander.
“I’ve seen people that are involved in this organization that aren’t even fathers, that come… they fill that role, and they do it gladly,” said Ginsburg.
Essence Dumas, who came with her mother, agreed. “Since I don’t know my father, it’s, like, fun to come here with all these father figures.”
Fathers in the Park is currently working on a costume drive to help every kid have a costume for Halloween.
Costumes can be donated at the Washington Branch of the Omaha Library, or can be brought to the event held every other Sunday at Benson Park. For more information, visit www.fathersinthepark.com or find them on Facebook.