by Susan Fried
A little boy told his dad he only wanted a little off the top as he and his father and older brother walked into the Rainier Beach Community Center for Fathers and Sons Togethers Barbershop Chat, Chew and Play. The event is held twice a year — in February during Black History Month and at the end of August, just before school starts. Participants can get free haircuts, lunch and valuable information about health and wellness. Ten volunteer barbers from more than half a dozen shops cut the hair of numerous boys, their dads and family members. While they waited for haircuts, the families heard speeches from a variety of experts in healthcare, financial security, and access to sports like golf.
FAST, or Fathers and Sons Together, formed their organization in 2011 following an increase in violence in the Rainier Valley Neighborhood. The organization supports increased involvement by African American fathers in the lives of their children and organizes 10 events a year that help engage dads in the lives of their sons and daughters. In addition to holding the Barbershop Chats, the organization also sponsors other events including an Empowerment Baseball Camp with partner Baseball Beyond Borders, an Empowerment Basketball Camp with partner Watts Basketball, a Dad and Daughter Day, a Golf Camp with Hi-Tee Little League Golf and a Fishing Day and Play.
FAST believes that helping fathers stay involved in their children lives has a lasting effect on young people and the community. Children with fathers in their lives perform better in school, stay out of trouble and get involved in their community.
FAST’s next community events are an Empowerment Basketball Camp on December 14 at Rainier Beach Community Center and the Gathering of Champions, and an end of the year celebration Dec. 21 at the Rainier Beach Community Club. For information go to FASTFathersAndSonsTogether.org or call (206) 228-6460.
Terry Hill III, 9, gets a trim from his father, Barber Terry Hill, Jr. before the start of the Father and Son’s Together Barbershop Chat August 31st at Rainier Beach Community Center.