By Rebekah Martin
Opelika’s Family Resource Center is hosting a ‘Family Combine Kickoff’ event Feb. 6 at Opelika High School. The event will serve as an introduction of the FRC and Dad’s League, a fatherhood initiative, to the community as a whole.
“What we want to do is kind of introduce ourselves to the community … we’ve had really great support from the city, from a lot of stakeholders and civic leaders … but I don’t think the community at large knows that we’re here,” said Antione Harvis, fatherhood coordinator for the nonprofit organization. “We’ve got excellent resources in our community, but we have to let people know that we’re here.There are a lot of groups here that are trying to strengthen families. We just want to partner with those who are already doing excellent work in the community, so that we can kind of synergize with them and create a bigger end result for families in this community.”
The event will kickoff at 12:30 p.m. and will run until 4 p.m. Harvis said the day will begin with a short video introduction of the program and then a ceremony honoring the men who are currently participating in the weekly locker room sessions. There are men from all walks of life who participate, from policemen and pastors to a Opelika city councilman. As a part of the event, the FRC will also unveil its ‘Focus on Fatherhood’ campaign and will be signing a pledge in a ceremony with Mayor Gary Fuller. Harvis said the other aspect of the event will include family activites, such as a quarterback throw, a mock 40-yard-dash and a ball toss competition. Former pro football player Will Herring will be a special guest at the event. “Will is so supportive of what we are doing. He’s done a video for us on our Facebook page that we are trying to circulate,” Harvis said. “He will be at the event that day … he’s been a phenomenal supporter of what we’re doing.”
Harvis said the ‘Family Combine Kickoff’ is a dual-purpose event, one that will introduce the non-profit to citizens of Opelika, as well as show attendees what the organization is all about. The FRC has a goal of strengthening families, and especially focuses on the important role fathers play in the lives of their children.
“We’re realizing now throughout the country that the fatherhood issue, as far as fathers not only being present in the home, but being actively engaged in their kids’ lives is such a big deal. It weighs in on so many different areas. You see it in teenage pregnancy, in drop-out and incarceration rates, in poverty levels,” Harvis said. “When dad is not there, those things become issues for the community. So in order for us to attack these problems head-on, some of the things we want to change and make better, and really make this community what we know it can be, I think the fatherhood thing is really one of the first steps that we need to take. There are other steps that I think we need to take as well, but this is one of the first steps. We look to impact the mindsets of the dads that we interact with. Not just dads, but also father figures and dads-to-be, eventually we want to reach all of these. Without us having a different mind set, change doesn’t really happen. We can change circumstances all day long, but if we change the way we think about things and approach things with a better mindset, I think we will really start to see the transformation we want to see.”
The event is free and open to the public. To register online, visit www.dleagueconnects.org/event/familycombine or call 749-8400.