Volunteers, fathers honored

In recent weeks, I have been fortunate to participate in events that honored volunteers and fathers.

The first was the United Senior Services Volunteer Recognition. Like many nonprofit agencies and organizations, volunteers provide a tremendous amount of support to the the people served by United Senior Services.

More than 100,000 units of service are provided to tens of thousands of people in this community each year by the various programs offered by United Senior Services, which has about 100 paid staff members. I also serve as board member for the organization.

But it takes those volunteers to augment that workforce. And that helps the agency stay on solid financial footing and save money.

I truly believe the saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Last Friday, I was honored to serve as master of ceremonies for the kickoff dinner for the third annual Fatherhood Clark County Festival.

Our community has a 40 percent absent fathers rate. To address that problem, a Fatherhood Commission is in place, the second one in Ohio. It’s mission is to promote responsible fatherhood and practices.

The members include Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, Clark County Commissioner John Detrick, Job and Family Services of Clark County Executive Director Bob Suver, Springfield City Schools Superintendent David Estrop, Clark County Family and Children First Council Executive Director Marilyn Demma, Clark County Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Monnin and founding member Eli Williams, who is executive director of Urban Light Ministries in Springfield.

The kickoff dinner featured well-known Springfield natives Dee Miller and Vaughn Anthony.

Miller, a star football player at both Springfield South High School and Ohio State University, also had a brief career in the NFL. Today, he owns an insurance agency in Hilliard and is a sports analyst on radio and TV in Columbus.

Anthony is an R&B singer who has performed in both the United States and abroad. In 2012, he conceived and launched the not-for-profit Be About It Movement, which seeks to build strategic alliances with local civic groups to help identify and resolve long-term community and societal issues.

He has committed to work with the local efforts to promote fatherhood.

While both these men have excelled in sports and entertainment, it was even more inspiring to hear them talk about their passion and desire to give back to the community where they grew up.

Anthony said he “looked at myself to see what I wasn’t doing and what I could do to build up the community.” And he added, “I’m very passionate about what I’m doing and I’m not going to stop.”

Miller isn’t a father, but said he hopes to be one some day. And he paid tribute to his dad, who while divorced from Miller’s mother, always made an effort to remain part of his son’s life.

The kickoff dinner also featured the presentation of awards to the winners of the My Dad Rocks Art and Essay Contest, which honors fathers and father-figures.

Weekend events included family activities and a celebrity basketball game.

At the dinner, Anthony emphasized the importance of keeping fathers active in the lives of their children.

“If the father is missing, the house and the community are gone,” he said.

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