Male Engagement Taskforce: Holiday Fun

Faimara Jean-Baptiste
By Faimara Jean-Baptiste

Within the Vital Village Network, there was a recognized need for supportive services for males and fathers. As a result, the Vital Village Network Male Engagement Taskforce was formed. Vital Village’s Male Engagement Taskforce has been heavily involved in collecting data to examine father engagement in the early stages of child development.

In the summer of 2015, we joined forces with our partnering fatherhood agencies, the Family Nurturing Center, the Father Friendly Initiative, and Evangelical Mt. Olives Church, to collect and compile data on the perceptions of fatherhood in Boston’s underserved communities, Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury. Planning took place over a 4-week period where we were able to develop and create two surveys to administer at a summer “Fathers and Families Day” that celebrated fathers and their roles as parents. The event welcomed over 500 families and we collected approximately 45 father surveys and 76 non-father surveys. After evaluating data, we learned that perceptions of fatherhood between mothers and fathers are quite similar.

In an effort to deepen our partnership with Father’s Uplift, another agency that provides services to fathers, Father’s Uplift and Vital Village worked together to make this past holiday season a joyous one for over 60 families. Fathers’ Uplift brought an amazing idea to the Taskforce to host a holiday party titled “Holiday Fun with Dads and Families”. We were given the daunting task of gathering gifts for 150 children and 60 Fathers in just a few short weeks. In December, with our collaborative efforts, strategic planning, and outreach efforts we contacted a number of toy stores and major retailers in hopes of gift donations for each child in every family attending the holiday event.

Astoundingly, with support from our donors and sponsors, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Boston Children’s Museum, Cradles to Crayons, Target, Magic Beans, Salvation Army, and BMC Grow Clinic, we collected nearly 200 gifts for the kids. Parents at the party all received The Polar Express books to read to their children. We were able to fill the room with single fathers engaging in fun activities alongside their children.Families celebrated over holiday-themed games, music, crafts, face-painting, balloon animals, dinner, and dessert. With the goal of improved health outcomes for children through increased emotional engagement of fathers, Vital Village will continue to hold regular meetings of an inclusive male engagement taskforce to create, plan, organize, and reinforce methods of father engagement.

Posted In: Male Engagement Task Force