06/19/11 — Event celebrates fathers

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Event celebrates fathers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 19, 2011 1:50 AM

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Jimmie Farmer and John Jackson prepare hot dogs and hamburgers for hungry attendees at the Multicultural Father's Day event at H.V. Brown Park Saturday.

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Woodrow Mitnaul III gets a kiss from his daughter, Chianti Mitnaul, 5, before she returns to jumping in an inflatable at the Multicultural Father's Day event at H.V. Brown Park Saturday.

Adam Patton began celebrating Father's Day on Saturday afternoon with a unique activity not typically seen this time of year -- watching his 4-year-old daughter Savanah fly a kite.

As her Barbie kite gained momentum and wafted higher, Patton admitted he hadn't initially been confident that the balmy day would lend itself to the activity.

"We just hoped it would be," he said. "We just brought out the kites before it gets too hot."

Patton, who grew up in Goldsboro but now lives in Charlotte, returned to the area to spend Father's Day with his wife, Jenifer's, family.

They learned about the Multicultural Father's Day event at H.V. Brown Park and set out with their children, which also include 2-year-old Cosette and four-month-old Joseph.

Seated in a pavilion near the stage, Henry Bennett played "Papa" to godson Noven Williams 3, while the boy's mother, Felicia Williams prepared to participate in a puppet ministry sponsored by her church Word Faith.

"We're here to spread the word of God," she said, adding that about 20 people from the church were taking part, including her daughter, Chantel Williams, 14.

"We're doing the puppet ministry for the fathers out there. They're taking their kids out, having fun," Chantel said.

This was the first year for the event, said Glenda White, resident services coordinator for Goldsboro Housing Authority and organizer of the celebration.

"It's a nationwide event, started from the National Fatherhood Initiative that's going to be stared by the federal government," she explained. "Everybody is trying to do something in their public housing area but we're not going to do it in public housing. We want to make it multi-cultural ... and help fathers reconnect with their children and strengthen our community families."

In addition to entertainment from area church groups, Ms. White said there were representatives from the Goldsboro Police SWAT Team and housing officers, Red Cross, Health Department, Gateway and ADLA, as well as a basketball clinic, voter registration and other vendors.

For the initial outing, she said it was relatively easy to get such a good response.

"I just asked," she said. "I e-mailed people, told them what we needed. People said yes."

Brenda Bass, from the environmental health section of the Health Department, provided information on children's health, including prevention of lead poisoning and maintaining health homes.

Seated next to her was Dr. Frankie Lewis of Wayne County, but whose program, MedAssist, is based in Mecklenburg County.

"It provides free prescription medications to people who are not insured and meet a certain level of income," she explained, adding, "Everyone that has come in has taken the information for themselves or someone that they know."

But beyond the entertainment and information, the day still maintained its focus on family, specifically fathers and children.

Steven Ashford Jr., dad to 5-year-old Shy'Heim, said he plans to reconnect with his own father on Father's Day.

On Saturday, though, he was sharing his passion for boxing with some of the community youth. The former football player at Goldsboro High School moved to New York to pursue amateur boxing but shoulder injuries curtailed that career and in 2010, he moved back to Goldsboro.

"I didn't have the funds to open a big gym like I wanted," he said. So instead, he, with support from Larry Robinson, opened up Ashford's Gym and now works with young men ages 10 and up, he said.

"We target all kids but target lower incomes," Ashford said.

He brought about 10 of his protégés out Saturday, giving a demonstration of what they'd learned under his tutelage.

His efforts have already begun making an impression, said Larry Jones of St. Mark's Church.

"The men's fellowship group is going to work on how we can partner with him as well, " Jones said. "Goldsboro Housing Authority asked us to partner with them and our pastor (Bishop Alton Smith) wants to be part of this group, showing how fathers and men are involved in the community."

Harold Grant and wife Toya were also starting their celebration of Father's Day early, with children Natasha Williams, 6, Angel Grant, 4, and Jasmine Grant, 1, accompanied by brother-in-law Ronald Banks Sr., with his two sons, Ronald Jr., 12, and Corey, 9.

Tony Williams, a family friend, tagged along, saying his two children are grown so it was a day off for him.

Mrs. Williams, though, had big plans for her husband today.

"We're celebrating Father's Day," she said. "I'm going to cook (and) wash his clothes. It's his day. I'll be maid for a day."