It’s October and I realized the other day that I hadn’t yet written about my favorite new thing going on this year – the Men of Binghampton (MOB) Group.
No, not “MOB” like a new gang, calm down. One of the most surprising stereotype-busters I saw last year was the number of dads involved in their kids’ lives. It’s inaccurately publicized that in urban communities, at least statistically, fathers aren’t living in the home with their children. Naturally, then, when I rolled up at the school, I didn’t expect to see any men around. Well, it’s been about a year and a half and I’ve learned that (like in most cases) things aren’t quite as they seem. There are a lot of dads who are around, involved and engaged in their kids’ lives. It might not always look like the “traditional” family model, but then again, the suburbs don’t look that way anymore either (maybe externally, but you get the point). Last May, as I talked with some of them, I sensed a shared desire to change the downward-trending numbers of involved dads in the neighborhood. There was a sense of urgency in stopping the growing number of high school dropouts, gang members, drug dealers, etc. As I started asking men what would help this actually happen – the unanimous opinion was that men needed to band together to show the young men a better way. So, in August, we started the “Men of Binghampton.”
Our October MOB meeting was awesome. We’ve started having meetings once a month, trying to connect dads/involved men/good role models together. Initially it aimed just at father figures, but it’s shifted to all men trying to be good examples in the community as we’ve seen what it could be. Our hope is to rally the “good guys” in the community together to be more visible and influential in their kids’ lives as well as in our neighborhood. It’s no small task, as there are not many dad’s names even LISTED on the school directory. Certainly there are some great dads that probably aren’t listed, but for sake of comparison, in talking with an administrator I worked with at a school in Germantown (wealthy Memphis suburb), there were dads listed for about 98% of their kids. Cornerstone/Lester is currently at about 20%. Our prayer is that by gathering and mobilizing the dads, stepdads, grandpas, uncles, etc who ARE there, other men in the community, and more importantly, the young men in the community, would take notice and begin joining together to man up and transform an entire generation. We’re currently in the process of laying out a plan to give exposure, experiences and role models to our boys that will help them make the transition from boys to men in the right way.
Our November meeting will be planning out a year of father-son activities and topics to be discussed at MOB meetings. I will keep you posted on how this thing progresses, but the possibility (and we DO believe it is possible) is that an an entire generation would begin to reverse the trend of fatherlessness in our neighborhood. Please pray that it will bring confidence, enthusiasm and ultimately a greater understanding of our Heavenly Father and His love for His children!