(Every year, fathers – biological and non-biological – are honored for their impact on their families and the community and placed in the Memphis Training Camp for Dads Hall of Fame. The New Tri-State Defender will highlight past award recipients in the series, “Where Are They Now?”)
It’s been three years since father and community figure, Fred Johnson, received the Hall of Fame Award at the inaugural Memphis Training Camp for Dads. Then, he was raising his daughter, Jasmine, who was a bright and talented freshman at Wiley College. He’d raised her as a single dad after his wife passed away in 2011 when Jasmine was just a year old.
Despite challenges, Johnson continues to give and remains a father figure in the community. Today, he serves on the Community Advisory Board at St. Jude Children’s Hospital and is a coordinator for WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) at Rozelle Creative and Performing Arts Elementary School, his daughter’s former school.
Johnson is also a mentor to a teenage boy as a special request of his mother. Seeking wisdom from God and support from his church family and community have been keys in his journey.
“The role of the father in the community is to be an active participant in the healthy development of his family,” Johnson says.
A great dad, he adds, should demonstrate and live out values that help to build a strong family foundation, which include love, spirituality, compassion, respect and trust.
Attending the Training Camp for Dads allowed Johnson to tap into new resources, as well as make a connection with other fathers.
“I got confirmation by seeing fathers get recognition for the work they are doing in the community,” he says.
On June 14th, Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will host the 4th Annual Memphis Training Camp for Dads at the University of Memphis Fogelman Executive Center. Another awesome father will be awarded, and nominations are being accepted for unsung heroes who make a difference, big or small, in their families and communities. Individuals, as well as men’s groups in churches and faith-based organizations and fraternal and civic groups are encouraged to attend.
Fathers from across the city will gather to receive parenting information and tools from a men’s perspective on various subjects, including Internet safety, how to build father-daughter relationships and even. Etan Thomas (www.etanthomas.com), author of “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge,” will deliver the keynote address in the closing luncheon. Thomas is known for his career in the NBA. His passion is encouraging fathers to be present and active in their families.
Johnson, like Thomas, knows the impact of connecting with other men to share and receive new information in parenting.
“The training camp encouraged me through listening to the testimonies of other fathers sharing their real life stories and allowed me to gain further knowledge about the issues of fathers,” he says.
Memphis Training Camp for Dads is free and open to the public, with workshops beginning at 9 a.m. To register or nominate a father for the Hall of Fame award, visit www.memphistn.gov/fatherhood.