By Kendyl Hollingsworth
For the Opelika Observer
The Opelika-based nonprofit ‘Dad’s League’ has sought to teach and empower fathers in the community to improve relationships with their children since fall 2015, and Director Antione Harvis has been there to help the organization realize this goal every step of the way.
According to their website, the vision of Dad’s League is to “encourage a thriving culture of fathers who engage their families toward being positive contributors to their communities.”
Harvis said he meets with individuals and organizations in the community that have an interest in helping their cause. From there, they work on outreach and event opportunities.
“It’s very challenging when you’re dealing with men to get them to corral or come together in groups,” Harvis said. “We tend to kind of be lone wolves sometimes. That’s probably the most challenging part of this job is finding opportunities or creating opportunities … to get a group of men or dads together.”
Several schools in the area hold a breakfast for dads to come eat with their children, and Harvis said that is one such event in which Dad’s League has seen a large turnout.
Dad’s League is also known for their Locker Room Sessions. According to Harvis, Locker Room Sessions are opportunities for fathers, father figures and potential fathers to come together and exchange parenting ideas and stories to help everyone learn and grow in fatherhood. These sessions are also meant to encourage and empower participants.
Harvis recalled a time in which a single father whose wife had passed away was struggling to balance household duties and quality time with his children. His fellow participants had made some suggestions to help, and he found great success after implementing some of their ideas.
“To see that, you know, in action…it was awesome to me because a lot of times, guys—we get information, but implementing it and doing it—it doesn’t always happen like that,” Harvis said. “But it was really encouraging to see that, so it just gives you a little fuel to continue going.”
Although many fatherhood initiatives tend to focus more on reaching out to fathers that need a little extra help, Harvis stressed that Dad’s League is for every dad.
“It doesn’t matter what your situation is, what your background is, your socioeconomic status—none of that matters,” he said. “We welcome every dad. Also, we want everybody to join the community, and I mean everyone—mothers, aunts, grandparents, it doesn’t matter—because I believe that our whole community has to engage in pushing forward this information and has to be involved in making this kind of cultural shift in our community where fatherhood is concerned.”
According to Harvis, Dad’s League is working to put together a Dad’s League Leadership Team, and they are looking for facilitators and ambassadors to be part of that. Team members will undergo training courses.
To find out more about Dad’s League and how to get involved, visit www.dleagueconnects.org, call 334-749-8400 or email Harvis at email@example.com.