Re: Community Outreach is Vital
There are many avenues for moving the conversation forward about the changing image of fatherhood….lead by example! Beyond being an active and engaged parent, most of us realize that one necessary way is to form a strong community or network of dads in your local community. Also important, is to communicate our positive message via the local media. Another path that has been powerful in New York City for our dads group is reaching out to parenting organizations in the local community and forging strong partnerships that demonstrates active and engaged fathers as role models.
Let me explain a few successful initiatives that have worked in NYC for us in the hopes that some of these ideas might be replicated in other cities.
The co-organizer of our dads and good friend of mine, Matt Schneider, stumbled Baby Buggy, a non-profit organization dedicated to “providing New York City’s families in need with essential equipment, clothing, and products for their infants and young children.” Matt’s family donated several bags of items and the “giving” experience was rewarding.
More importantly, Matt thought his experience would end there, but a few weeks later, he received a note in the mail from the Executive Director of the organization. They were so happy to receive a donation from a Dad and wanted to figure out how to get more Dads involved. One thing led to another, and the group has already spent two Saturday afternoons volunteering our time with Baby Buggy. Our tasks ranged from pairing up shoes (“careful – two right shoes is not a pair”) to bundling clothes to sanitizing/wiping down picture books to fulfilling “NEED” lists for various organizations. As one of our active members, Gil R. stated, “All it requires is giving your time or goods to donate for a wonderful cause. I look forward to partnering with Baby Buggyagain in the near future as well as looking for other opportunities to connect & partner our active group of fathers with more community outreach.” With the passion of a few dads, our dads group is in the process of scheduling quarterly volunteer outings with Baby Buggy as well as exploring other opportunities where we can pitch in. Baby Buggy is not a national organization, but I expect that a similar organization exists in other major cities where some dads groups might connect with.
Partnering with Parent Venues/Organizations:
Over the past couple of years, we enjoy reaching out to the local playgyms, music & art classes, as well parenting centers. These relationships have resulted in numerous free or low cost meet-up events for our dads group and in return, good exposure for these local brands to a unique market segment (active dads) who might not necessarily try out one of these experiences on their own. Also important, these relationships have the directors and management teams of these venues and organizations considering fathers in the equation as they plan for the future. Sure, some have started to change their language of class offerings from “mommy & me” to “parents & little ones” or sent letters about their new openings addressing both parents (inclusive of dads) as well. See below:
|Dear Moms and Dads:|
|I hope you’re as excited as we are about our Grand Opening next week, which is full of FREE trial classes for you to check out the Kids at Work style, as well as our brand new 1,000 square foot space located at 242 W27th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues!|
Even more exciting, is that a few of these organizations have also reached out to us inquiring about a successful recipe on what it would take to form an all dad class (daddy & me) at their locations. Now, don’t get me wrong – these venues are a business and want to make a profit. However, these conversations that are taking place never happened in the past!
In our constant effort to do more fulfilling things together as a group and add depth to our dads community beyond camaraderie, socialization, and support…we welcome comments or suggestions on other ways we can continue to reach out within the local community to feel good about ourselves and move the involved father conversation in a forward trajectory…because it’s not longer just a mom’s world.