01/24/10 — YMCA to host father/daughter dance

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YMCA to host father/daughter dance

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 24, 2010 1:50 AM

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Justin Tosco, former youth director the YMCA and DJ for the 2009 Father/ Daughter Dance, leads a group in a line dance. The sixth annual fundraiser for the Y's WARM Hearts mentoring program will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Alando Mitchell lights up when he talks about his three daughters, ages 14, 9 and 5.

From spending time with them around the dinner table as a family to putting an individual tiara on each of their heads before he takes them to the annual father/daughter dance at the Family YMCA, he makes sure they know just how much their dad cares, he said.

"There's nothing that can take the place of me having quality time with my daughters," he said. "Those girls are my heart, and they're my life."

Mitchell is director of the WARM Hearts mentoring program at the YMCA, which sponsors the father/daughter dance.

The sixth annual event will be Feb. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Y's gymnasium. The evening will also feature, food, games, a cake walk and door prizes.

It's grown in popularity over the years and space has forced organizers to place a cap on the number of tickets available this year, Mitchell said. This year's event will be limited to the first 200 tickets sold.

Cost is $20 per couple, plus $5 for each additional daughter.

Some dads, like Mitchell, make a date with several daughters for the occasion.

"With the way the world is now, there's a lot of fathers that are out of place, that are not in the home, period," he said. "I think it's real significant, more significant nowadays to have the father/daughter dance because of that reason.

"This gives the fathers a chance to take their daughters out on their first date, to show their daughters what the expectation is when they start dating."

The annual dance is the biggest fundraiser for WARM Hearts, which matches up mentors with youths from around the county.

It helps support the once-a-month outings and activities throughout the year.

The most glaring need at present is for male mentors, Mitchell said.

"It's huge. I have got a huge list of males, mostly from 8 to 14 years old (who need mentors)," he said.

The time commitment is two hours a week and can range from volunteering to be a basketball coach to spending time with a young person, or simply being available to encourage and support.

"Most of our youths that we have are not youths with behavior problems," Mitchell said. "A lot of them are youths that ... their grandparents are raising them and they need help, or just some outside help."

He is appreciative of anyone willing to step forward and lend a hand in being an example to one of the program's youths.

And while it might be part of his job to find mentors, it's also a personal responsibility that starts at home.

"I get a chance to show my daughters what the expectations of a young man should be, what she should expect when they start dating ... gentleman things that our kids are not learning," he said. "(The dance) is quality time and quality history that we're making and it gives us a chance to shape them and mold them with what they can expect from a young man."

Tickets are currently on sale for the upcoming dance, by calling 778-8557. They can be picked up in advance at the YMCA front desk.

There are also several other needs for the event, which the public can assist with through donations. Financial contributions are always appreciated, as well as food, decorations and flowers. Call the Y or e-mail mentoring@goldsboroymca. org with questions or for more information.