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Recognizing great fathers

The federal government spends nearly $100 billion in public money every year to support fatherless families, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative.

In Suffolk, an alarming trend of absent or uninvolved fathers is catching the attention of community leaders like Dr. Princella Johnson, founder of Y2K Academy. The Suffolk-based organization received a National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity-Building Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Family Assistance.

The organization, as part of its mission to promote responsible fatherhood, is sponsoring its first-ever Dadz of the Year Awards, and is accepting nominations from the community during this Father’s Day week.

“We want to recognize responsible fatherhood in our community, because it’s really needed,” Johnson said. “A lot of our youth are facing challenges because of father absenteeism. One way to encourage responsible fatherhood and responsible behavior is to recognize dads who are doing a great job. We hope to do this every year and raise awareness.”

Nominations are being accepted through Wednesday. The awards ceremony is Sunday, June 27.

Johnson said encouraging responsible fatherhood is important because children who have involved fathers tend to do better in school and are less likely to drop out.

“We have a serious dropout problem in our community,” Johnson said. “For us to truly help the children that we aim to help, we’ve got to help the parents. We have to educate them.”

Johnson added that oftentimes, even fathers who are involved in their children’s lives can be perceived as distant when they really are just being men.

“It’s one of those gender things,” Johnson said. “Men lead by example. They like fixing things. If nothing’s broken, they don’t have anything to fix.”

Johnson hopes the father awards will help recognize the greatest dads in the community.

“We know we have plenty of wonderful dads in our community, and we want to recognize them,” she said. “We feel we are implementing a very important observance in our community.”

Submit nominations for the awards by visiting www.y2kdadzaward.webs.com. The awards ceremony will be held June 27 at 7 p.m. at the Shepherd Center at Tabernacle Christian Church, 2500 E. Washington St. The event is sponsored by Tabernacle Christian Church, Applebee’s, Major Signs and Crown Trophy. For more information, call 925-4545 ext. 1003.