On Saturday, June 6, 2015, a Father-Son Summit took place in Milton, FL. It was sponsored by the group Men In Action (MIA). The founder, Morris Smith, began this organization in 2013 as a mentoring program for young boys who were growing up in the community without their fathers. In Milton, MIA has weekly meetings with young men whose ages range from 6 to 20. Smith, (‘Mo’), along with approximately five other men, meet with these young men to discuss various topics and to help guide them as they develop into their manhood. This past Saturday was no different. At 11:00 am, MIA held a workshop for young boys and girls who had fathers who were missing in action. During the workshop there was a scene played from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, where Will had to deal with the hurt feelings of his father leaving him, placing him with his relatives and not being a father for him. As the children and the adults watched the video many of the children, who are experiencing this very same thing, became outwardly emotional. Once the video ended, the children were placed in several groups and given a survey about the video to which they had to collectively come up with the answers.
These children were articulate and extremely forthcoming in their thoughts concerning what they were watching. Two of the questions that were asked was “In what way did Will’s father disappoint him? How did he feel?” From one group a youth said “His father left him and made Will feel like he didn’t want him. Will felt sad, angry, abandoned and rejected.” Then a second question was asked, “What should Will do now?” Many of the children from each group replied, “Move on and prove to the father, that he will be better than Will’s father.” As the children said this the mentors posed the question “How can Will be a better father, he doesn’t have kids?” At that point the children had no real answer. Then Smith made the comment, “That is why we are here. We may not have all the answers, but for those of you who do not have father’s present in your life, you have us. We love each of you like our own children and we will help you, guide you and lead you into being good parents. But you have to take what we teach you and apply it.”
After the meeting, The Pensacola Voice spoke with Smith, and he said, “As you can see these kids really get involved with what we are doing. It’s important for us to create a dialogue with them so that they are able to express themselves and we can help them.” The Pensacola Voice asked, “What’s next in the plans of MIA?” Smith responded, “We have some things lined up. This program is an outlet for the kids, many of them, because they have nowhere else to go, so we do something with them on a weekly basis to keep them plugged in.”