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What Attending the New England Fatherhood Conference Meant to Me

What is the New England Fatherhood Conference? That's a great question. I for myself did not know what it was. But as the conference went on, I learned and had an idea of what it was, what it is and what it potentially can be in the future.  

My name is Lamel Moore. I am the Rhode Island Fatherhood Initiative chairman and the Prevent Child Abuse Rhode Island state director. I and a few other staff members attended the New England Fathering Conference two weeks ago in Newport, RI and it was wonderful, it was great. Some of the things that we learned were true. Innovative. Already known and out-of-the-box.  

I will say for this blog post what the conference meant to me. The New England Fathering Conference to me meant that it was a gathering of professionals and fathers who could attend to share ideas, thoughts, and best practices on what works in their area. Mind you, the conference was in Newport, RI and it is specifically for those New England states, so we had Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  

It was truly wonderful to see so many fathers there and so many males there as well. One thing I was surprised with was the number of females that were there, and I'll tell you why. In society for so many times, we have this unique singularity essence where the mom does this and the dad does this. Or when the dad starts around the mom picks up more of the slack to do something else. And it was wonderful to see everyone coming together to work together to fill gaps that are needed in our society. 

Throughout the event, we had workshops, and guest speakers and I wanted to touch on one or two of the workshops that I felt were very impactful. So, your day started very early, but what the meat of it was getting into the workshops and one of the workshops that I truly felt was very, very impactful was First Time Over the Wall, Working with Incarcerated Fathers, and that was done wonderfully. The presenters were Denise Rowan and Don Unger, and they talked about aiming to create a teaching toolkit for people looking to work with incarcerated fathers and show them respect and dignity while on their journey and path to reunification with their children and families. That was a great presentation. That was on Wednesday.  

The next presentation, which was good, was the Intersection of Black and Fatherhood, a Conversation. It was a conversation facilitated by Mr. Matthew Parker. And it took us, the participants, through the process of creating a space for fathers who identify as black, and facilitating discussion on maleness, the machoness, and fatherhood, and the expectations of what it means to be a father in reality. There's no difference if you're white, black, yellow, brown, any and everything. We're all there to be there for our families, provide for our families and to raise our children. And I think that was a very important discussion because sometimes people view others of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds as having something else or a certain level when in reality we all want to be with our kids in some aspect. So, the conference was truly amazing. It was great.  

It was a 2 1/2-day conference and rally on Thursday, March 21st. On the second day, there was another great round of workshops. Another one that stood out for me was the Fatherhood Monologue Workshop, and it was a collection of short stories about being a father. Also, another hard-hitting topic was fathering children with special needs. Here at previous Support Network Rhode Island as the Chairperson for the Rhode Island Fatherhood Initiative, we hear that there is a growing need for more support.  

I'm very fortunate for the staff that are here who run our father-to-father program. On Wednesday nights, from 5:30 PM until 7:00 PM, they do a tremendous job in identifying the needs that our fathers are requesting. Trying to work with them as best as possible to fill in those holes and gaps, but also creating a very safe space where fathers can also simply come just to share their ideas and potentially at times just vent because they feel. That this space or this space that we provide? Can accommodate their time. I hope that in the future we can build this to make it bigger and better and provide an even larger event. The father-to-father program that we hold can build off that success as well.  

I hope to attend next year's conference. We have not received where just yet, but it will be in Connecticut. I hope to attend that and assist in any way that we can. I hope the father-to-father program here at Parent Support Network Rhode Island continues and we hope that if you are in need, if you identify as a mentor, an uncle, a dad, a stepdad, or anything else and you work with children or youth in your family, you can join us, and we can help you in any shape or form. 

Learn more about our fatherhood program at

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