DALLAS, Texas — When a Dallas middle school asked for 50 men to stand in for absent fathers at a “Breakfast with Dads” event, they never expected the response they got.
Nearly 600 men showed up for the event last month at Billy Earl Dade Middle School. Most of the students at the school are low-income and many don’t have fathers in their lives.
“When a young person sees someone other than their teacher take interest in them, it inspires them,” Rev. Donald Parish, Jr., “Breakfast with Dads” organizer, told the Dallas Morning News. “That’s what we want to see happen.”
Kristina Dove, who works as a children’s advocate at non-profit educational organization Big Thought, took to social media to put out a call for volunteers.
Dove received 400 responses. Nearly 600 men ended up showing up.
“It’s a way to engage the students’ family during the school day and it’s especially important for middle school students,” Dove told ABC News.
One of the volunteers was Jason Rodriguez. He is the assistant chief of police for the Dallas ISD Police Department
“Words cannot describe the impact mentoring youth can have on both you and your mentee. Powerful to see a community of fellow men and fathers come together to wrap their arms around our young men,” he tweeted.
One of the volunteers brought a tie for each student.
Photographer Stephanie Drenka told ABC News it brought tears to her eyes.
“I started crying behind my camera,” she said. “The back of my camera was fogging up.”
Dove hopes the mentors who showed up for “Breakfast with Dads” last month will continue to work with her.
“Our next step is to bring the guys together again and have them participate in various opportunites for mentorship,” she told ABC News.