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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? – Making a home for African-American boys

trainingcamp 600The City of Memphis will pull out the stops for fathers during the 4th Annual Memphis Training Camp for Dads on Saturday, June 14 at the University of Memphis Fogelman Executive Center. The sports-themed camp will include workshops to provide men with the information and tools needed to be an effective and successful father.

Every year, fathers, biological and non-biological, are honored for their impact on their families and the community and placed in the Hall of Fame. The New Tri-State Defender will highlight past award recipients in the series, "Where Are They Now?"

Martin Hurley had already been a foster parent for several years when he adopted his first son in 2006. He has fostered over 35 African-American boys, and believes that every child deserves a family.

 

 

"I had fostered teen African-American boys," he says. "That was really the group that I felt called to and passionate to work with."

Hurley says all children have universal needs, but African-American boys have been neglected.

"Above all, they (all children) need love. They need someone to care for them and someone to spend time with them," Hurley says. "I really think there probably are a lot more people coming to the plate to do that for other races of children other than African Americans, but what children need is consistency across the board just because of whatever circumstances or situations in the African-American community.

"As they get older, we don't have a lot of people coming for them, we don't have a lot of people willing to spend to time with them or open their homes to them. It's a great need."

While many adoptive parents choose to adopt younger children, Hurley adopted another son last year who's 12 years old. His oldest son is now 16.

"I realized that teens have a need for permanency as well. Teens come with their own set of stuff, but I still found it be very rewarding, as well as challenging," he says.

"My older son needed permanency, he needed a place, he needed a family. It made sense. Otherwise, you have a lot of kids that will age out of the system without the support of a family or anywhere to go."

Hurley was honored last year at Training Camp for Dads. He found great value in the workshops.

"It was great training, great fellowship and camaraderie among the men who were there. As a foster parent, we go to a lot of training, but the Training Camp for Dads was unique in the fact that it was designed exclusively for dads, so that made it refreshingly unique."

Among the workshops was the Locker Room Chat, where men could talk openly about fatherhood with a panel. This year, attendees will dig even deeper into the fatherhood experience during workshops on fathering daughters, first-time fatherhood and re-entry into the family.

Today, Hurley continues to be active in his adoptive and foster children's lives while working on a doctorate degree and participating in organizations such as Memphis and Shelby County Foster Care Association and Bethany Christian Services.

NBA veteran and author of "Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge," Etan Thomas will address dads at the closing luncheon and awards ceremony of this years Training Camp for Dads. The event is free and open to the public, and childcare will be provided onsite. Pre-register your men's group at www.memphistn.gov/fatherhood.

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