DEAR ABBY: The letter in your column from "First Class Parent" -- the father who was raising his children as a single parent -- struck a chord with me. I am president of the national MAD DADS (Men Against Destruction -- Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder).
So many of our children today grow up in homes with only one parent -- usually the mother. Children need the influence of a father or other positive role model. Many of our male volunteers grew up in households without a father, or are single fathers themselves. They have seen firsthand the consequences of absent fathers, and they are doing something about it.
Our organization started in 1989, after one of the founders' sons was nearly beaten to death by gang members. Here in Omaha, we were tired of the downward spiral of delinquency, drugs, gang involvement and destruction.
Today, MAD DADS has 50 chapters in 14 states. Our volunteers act as mentors, friends and, most important, positive role models to youth. These individuals walk their neighborhoods in pairs to take back their streets from drug dealers and gang members. They implement activities and programs to reach out to youth, serving as surrogate fathers, uncles and big brothers. MAD DADS chapters have been created in some of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas of the country. (South Central Los Angeles, for example, now has a chapter and two subdivisions.)
MAD DADS continues to reach out to recruit positive role models for inner-city youth. If your readers would like further information regarding MAD DADS, including how to become a volunteer or start a chapter in their area, they can contact us at 1-402-451-3500, or write to: MAD DADS National Headquarters, 3030 Sprague St., Omaha, Neb. 68111.
Thank you, Abby, for drawing attention to the important issues of fatherhood in our nation. -- EDDIE STATON, PRESIDENT, OMAHA
DEAR MR. STATON: Thank you for letting my readers and me know about this worthwhile effort to reach and rehabilitate fatherless youth.
Mentoring is not a new idea, but it seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Mentoring takes time, training and dedication -- but the payoff, turning young lives in productive new directions, is enormously rewarding. The committed men who step forward to donate their time and energy are to be commended. I wish you continued success in this noble effort.