Community Action Organization of Scioto County’s Head Start department recently held the Annual Dudes and Donuts event at their locations, where they welcome father figures to meet with children to enjoy donuts, visit the classroom, and hear a story.
“We’ve only been Dudes and Donuts for two years, but family engagement has been ongoing for 20 years,” Early Childhood Director Sarah Sloan said. “We have events year-round that we do. Family engagement is one of our biggest priorities, because we really want to strengthen families. Father and male engagement is a big component of that.”
Sloan said that the event is very important to the healthy development of students.
“We do this so that the men become involved and engaged with their child’s education,” Sloan said. “They need to be advocates when it comes to their child’s education, and we want them to feel comfortable going into a school and saying, ‘this is my child; this is my family.’ It is all about building relationships.”
Dads weren’t the only people invited to the event.
“It is for any father figure engaged in the upbringing of a child,” Sloan explained. “Of course, it can be a dad, but it can also be an uncle, family friend, grandfather—anyone who is important to that child.”
The event is also for the male role models to network.
“It is important for the fathers and male figures to meet their peers and become comfortable with them. In some cases, they are old friends reconnected,” Sloan said. “We have instances where men will run into each other who went to high school together, or have an old connection of some kind, and they swap numbers and start socializing with their children’s peer’s fathers. There is nothing like having peer support.”
At the Highland location, State Representative Justin Pizzulli read to the families gathered.
“It was truly a heartwarming experience and I thank Carla Womack for inviting me, as well as Steve Sturgill for bringing me up to date on the needs of the community,” Pizzulli said. “Empowering young minds through the joy of reading fosters a brighter future for our community. I’m proud to share the magic of storytelling with the next generation on Dad’s Day.”
Sloan was excited about Pizzulli’s attendance.
“Anytime we can get someone who has influence in government participating is good, because we want them aware of what we do and how we do it, the families and children that we serve; it is just important to see this everyday connection.”