GONZALES — Javen Moses’ eyes lit up when his father, John Moses, entered the G.W. Carver Head Start playground Friday.
John Moses was attending the first Head Start Doughnuts for Dads at the school.
“I want to be in his life always,” John Moses said. “I wanted to be here today to see what his day is like.”
Across the playground, Michael Sharper was getting a tour of the area from his godson Tylen Patterson, 4.
“His dad is coming from Shreveport and got stuck in traffic, so when they called and asked me to come, I dropped everything and got over here,” Sharper said. “I wanted him to know I care.”
Showing that support and caring is just what organizer Richard “Coach” Brown was looking for from more than two dozen fathers, grandfathers and other male role models Friday.
Brown, who has been organizing Doughnuts for Dads at area schools since the late 1990s, said the goal of the program is to encourage fathers to take part in their children’s lives and to get volunteers to fill the void left when there is no male role model involved a child’s life.
After eating doughnuts and listening to a few speakers, the men visit with their children in the classroom.
Donaldsonville barber David Butler, who sat and ate breakfast with his daughter Shania Butler, 3, before the program started, said he supports Brown’s efforts “to make sure these young children have positive male role models in their lives.”
“I try to be a positive influence on kids that come in my shop every day,” he said. “I try to look out for all of them. I want them to all be on the right path.”
Brown, a retired educator who was recently elected to the Ascension Parish School Board, said the program is there to help men “make a commitment to your child.”
Former state Rep. Roy Quezaire asked the men to remember “that magical moment when your child was firs born.”
“That same feeling has to last,” Quezaire said.
“You’ve got to go that last mile to make it last. That child needs your special attention.”
He encouraged the men to “be present, show discipline and be there for your child.”
Quezaire also asked the men to be mentors to other young boys who need a male role model in their lives.
State Rep. Ed Price stressed the importance of reading with a child.
“Get a book in that child’s hands,” Price said. “Read with that child and be there for your child.”
Carver Principal Latatia Johnson invited the dads and grandfathers to visit the school often.
“I’m trying to save as many of these young men and women as we can, but I can’t do it alone,” Johnson said.
Brown recruited Quezaire, Price, James Moore, Tony Christy, Mark Peters, Larry Grant and others to serve as role models for the program.
“We meet at the schools and talk to the principals and try to get male role models in each school,” Brown said. “Mothers are always in their child’s life, but sometimes because of work and other commitments, fathers just aren’t there enough. We want each child to see positive male role models.”
Brown said the program has been so successful that he’s received calls from other parish school systems.
He said he’s bringing the program to Iberville Parish on Nov. 30.
“I got a call today from one of the dads who showed up Friday thanking me for the program,” Brown said Monday.
“And I’ve gotten calls from other men who want to be a mentor.”