At the same time Saturday that thousands of women will be getting empowered at Raleighs PNC Arena, some dudes will be getting empowered across town.
That, at least, is what Kim Best hopes theyll be doing.
The annual Womens Empowerment has been going on for 18 years and always features renowned speakers, entertainers and seminars to help women deal with issues they encounter. The daylong event has become a certifiable hit, attracting thousands from across the nation.
So why did Best, director of the Family Resource Center in Raleigh, schedule her first conference for men on the same day at the downtown Sheraton Hotel?
She said the center started planning its conference six months ago, before it knew the womens event was scheduled for the same day.
It wasnt intentional, but then I started thinking that maybe it wasnt so coincidental, she said. Were trying to achieve the same things. Most of our programs are overwhelmingly geared toward moms, single moms and the problems of teenage pregnancy and high-school dropouts. We realize now that fathers are the missing link in addressing the problems kids face.
Derrick Byrd knows that. Thats why he became a father. Byrd, a founding board member of the Family Resource Center, works at the Wake County Department of Human Services
He said the center has given me an opportunity to use all of these things Ive learned over the years in these parenting classes. ... I have had a lot of this parenting-type training since Moses parted the Red Sea, I guess.
An exaggeration, although Byrd had indeed raised two godsons before adopting his two children, who are now 12 and 14.
Fathers who dont have such extensive experience can learn a lot of the same stuff at the fatherhood conference.
I asked Byrd about the challenges of being a single parent, but he chose instead to talk about the rewards. The best reward is when you put all of that work into them and see the fruits of your labor, when theyre doing well in school, and theyre mannerable, when you have other people compliment them and you on how well theyre doing.
Best added, This conference will celebrate fathers, because many times all you hear are the negative connotations, like deadbeat dads.
Amen. Most men I know pay their child support. The ones who dont either because they cant or because theyre trifling seem to get all the attention. Seldom do dudes get attention for paying nor should they, since theyre supposed to.
Still, Best said, We want to promote and uplift fathers. Weve invited fathers from all over to come and spend the day networking and becoming empowered.
The guest speaker is Hall of Fame football player Rod Woodson, and workshops will deal with issues ranging from single-parenting to adoption to trying to be a good parent in a world where hip-hop reigns.
Far from being disappointed that her conference is scheduled for the same day as the larger womens conference, Best now appreciates the symmetry. If were going to do this next year and the year after, were probably going to shoot for the same day again.
Hey. Women and me getting empowered on the same day what could be better than that?
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