by Ronnie Estoque
This Saturday, June 11, the 2nd Annual Father’s Day Kick Back will be taking place at Rainier Beach Community Center and will feature a kickball game between youth and adult attendees. The event will be providing free food and live music from local DJs, family vision boards, and table discussions and share-outs to encourage conversations around learning more about the importance of understanding family dynamics.
The event will be taking place from 3 to 7 p.m., and it was organized through a collaboration between Community Passageways, Divine Alternatives for Dads Services, Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Late Night Recreation Program, Fatherhood Accountability Movement (FAM), and Matriarch Accountability Movement. Community Passageways CEO Dominique Davis will be the guest speaker for the event.
Cortez Charles, a Seattle Parks and Recreation specialist, was one of the main organizers behind this event. He is actively involved with Rainier Beach’s Late Night Program.
“[The] Kick Back was put together in order to celebrate the fathers who have been impacted by gun violence, and the fathers who have lost their kids and kids who have lost fathers,” Charles said. “But it’s also to celebrate the fathers who are there, who have been present in their young people’s lives, in their kids’ lives, and celebrate the journey of fatherhood. We carry so much weight in our responsibilities as fathers.”
During last year’s inaugural event, Charles vividly remembers how fathers began to have discussions around the struggles and joys of fatherhood that were born organically. He hopes that these types of conversations will continue to happen throughout Saturday’s event.
“We are being intentional to provide that platform for those discussions to have; we’re going to have table discussions facilitated by fathers and aspiring fathers to navigate those conversations … and have a more intimate conversation,” Charles said.
Charles has been actively involved in community work since 2013 and has come across many youth who have entered adulthood and even parenthood.
“Now, they’re young adults, and they got kids and they got family, and they got real issues that they’re dealing with,” Charles said. “I’m at the community centers every week … so I see a lot of the young people who don’t have fathers.”
Charles also acknowledges that mothers and other family members play a huge role in raising youth. They will also have table discussions for mothers to be in community with one another.
The event was intentionally planned for Saturday to make sure families would be able to celebrate Father’s Day together on Sunday. Routine meetings among all the organizations have made this event, and Charles is very excited to connect with all the young fathers in the community.
“We’ll be able to encourage and inspire these young fathers to be the best versions of themselves and improve in their role, a multitude of fathers that have been in a journey for 20 years, 30 years, some people got grandkids, that’ll be in the space,” Charles said.
Charles also is an active member of FAM, which hosts monthly Top of the Morning Parent Check-Ins to support parents in the community.
“You have a lot of organizations out here that are here setting up, they’re here to serve youth and community.” Charles said regarding his work with FAM. “But there’s not enough work out here that is focused in on parents, and how to be able to support the parents that are out here that need that, need the support, and we want to be intentional to be that village that everybody speaks to.”
Charles became a single father in his early 20s and is inspired to do community work because of the challenges and joys that fatherhood has presented to him.
“I understand the struggle of being a single father and having to get up, get on the bus, drop the kids off at daycare, hop back on the bus, go to work, get off, get off of work, get on the bus, and do it all over again,” Charles said. “The best advice that I can give to any father is to give themselves some grace. …We have absolute 100% control over one thing, and that’s how we respond.”
The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in participating in the kickball event can register once arriving at the Rainier Beach Community Center.
Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.
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