“San Antonio is a city that values families,” Julián Castro, United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told 500 fathers and families at a Father’s Day Fiesta Saturday afternoon. “We want them to have the strongest possible launch. And that starts with family,” he said.
Castro spoke of his family of origin – his mother and father separated when he was eight years old – and his family of destiny – he has a six-year-old daughter and a six-month-old son.
“So I know what a difference fathers make,” he said.
Greg Marshall, Program Coordinator for the San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign, took time out from the 15th Annual Father’s Day Fiesta to talk about the importance of dads in the lives of their kids.
“We want to honor the good men,” he said. “Ask them to be proud.”
We have done this for 15 years with a lot of help, Marshall said. “Collaboration from SAHA, the Southwest Key Program, and the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions is essential to our goals.
“There’s a lot of good men in the community,” he said, “and we want to recognize them. If we are going to make a difference, we need all men to work together with the support of women and grandparents.”
Marshall shared the resources available from the Responsible Fatherhood Program
“Sessions include parenting classes, healthy relationships, and childhood development,” he said. “We also do mentoring and coaching.”
Marshall said many men face a huge obstacle to fatherhood; they are divorced. “Courts don’t enforce visitation, so it makes it harder,” he said. “The majority of men don’t have money to enforce visitation.”
But there is hope.
“We have a lot of ways to help men stay involved in their children’s lives,” Marshall said. “We have financial counseling. We can work with the Attorney General to help modify child support. The Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center is another solution.
“Men and women go into the courtroom but they are not treated equally. Men should have the same rights,” Marshall said. “There are challenges of gangs and other stuff. We can work with schools so dads can see their kids as much as possible.”
More than a dozen agencies and companies celebrated Father’s Day with information about their services.
Chrysalis Ministries (formerly Bexar County Detention Ministries) had pamphlets about their Family Renewal Center. The Fatherhood Campaign had brochures from the National Fatherhood Initiative. Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) had fans for the crowd. Training Centers offered information on education, dental groups gave away toothbrushes, and insurance companies offered health care plans.
The Indigenauts was one of the most popular bands at the Father’s Day Fiesta. They played music with flavors of Beethoven, cumbia, bolero, and Spanish rap. Tunes ranged from country and western to eastern European. Alvaro Itzli Ramirez banged the jawbone of a horse with a drumstick and Robert Sabo played the violin.
“I am half Hungarian and half Mexican,” Sabo said. “That makes me a hungry Mexican.”
The performance by Son Semillas was another favorite with the crowd. Fathers and their families were treated to free hot dogs and hamburgers along with the free music.
*Featured/top image: Greg Marshall, Program Coordinator of the Fatherhood Campaign, and his son Aadyn exemplify the importance of men in the lives of their children.Photo by Don Mathis.