A survey of South Bay residents shows that men are less likely than women to volunteer their time for charitable causes. And studies of family stress blame the male of the species for family breakdown and violence.
It was with this in mind that more than 200 community members and leaders gathered to promote the need for men to create and sustain healthy families at a South Bay conference titled, "Males As Positive Forces," Oct. 11.
Its organizers held that affirming the positive contributions of men within families and communities can spur greater male involvement and can offset media stereotypes of detached masculinity with a vision of men in healthy relationships.
The keynote speaker was Jerry Tello of the National Latino Family and Fatherhood Institute. Tello connected themes of family culture and male responsibility with a specific call for healing relationships. He also hosted one of seven workshop sessions offered throughout the day to a total of 205 service providers and residents from San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties.
Other workshops were hosted by local professionals working in the fields of male involvement, family support, domestic violence and youth development. Participants were encouraged to network with each other and with workshop presenters, and ultimately to use what they had learned during the day to carry forward the work of the male involvement initiative.
The conference took place at the National City Holiday Inn and was hosted by the South Bay Partnership for the Public's Health, Paradise Valley Hospital, MAXIMUS and The California Endowment. It was supported by many state and local officials who joined attendees in signing a "Call to Action" supporting the male involvement movement in the region.
These models of male leadership included the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency's director Dr. Rodger Lum, District Attorney Paul Pfingst, County Supervisor Greg Cox, Congressman Bob Filner, the directors of the Chula Vista Coordinating Council and the National City Collaborative and Reachout to Families Coordinating Council.
According to a press release, several initiatives to foster leadership among young men in the South Bay region are already developing as a result of the conference. Among examples cited are: young men's groups at Chula Vista and Sweetwater high schools, a boys' club at Otay Elementary School and a "Circle of Little Brothers" in National City.
As Paradise Valley Hospital's Dana Richardson put it, "The conference motivated everyone to put forth their efforts and resources to make the advancement of the social role of men a reality in the South Bay."