This week for the These Dads Are Doing It Right series I wanted to share with you some fathers who are forming up their own dad squad. From helping mentor kids to creating chessboards, these dads are doing great things. In addition, if there are any other dads that you think we should check out leave their name and info in the comment section below.
Clinton Alexander has always considered Homewood-Flossmoor High School to be a community environment. As the school’s principal, he envisioned ways to bring more community within the building’s four walls. What has emerged from Alexander’s school of thought was an army of orange-shirted volunteers. This group is known among the school’s student body as the Dad Squad. Since the program that places male role models in Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s hallways and classrooms began a year ago, the initiative has created a sense of positive energy, not only for students but for the mighty band of men itself.
Jenks Dads on Duty
On a normal morning, Jenks Dads on Duty (JDOD) can be seen helping Jenks Academy students cross a busy East Southampton Avenue. They are providing words of encouragement before those pupils even walk into the building. On Nov. 16, the collective also helped run a Thanksgiving feast for students at the school as parents brought in cooked meals for everyone to enjoy. “We wear a lot of different hats, but it gives us the ability to help out wherever we can,” said Jenks Dads on Duty member Khayri McKinney. “We have laid our foundation in so many aspects of Jenks that they see our consistency. They see how we come together to convey a positive message for the kids and the parents.”
Hank Crapser grew up in an abusive environment, surrounded by drugs and alcohol. He spent about 30 years of his life struggling with addiction and nearly 15 years in and out of prison. In 2012, Crapser didn’t want to be alive. That was until he found out he was going to be a dad. In that moment, everything changed. He celebrated 11 years clean and sober. “I absolutely would not be here today if it wasn’t for my son.” Crapser said. Now Crapser works as a navigator for the Marion County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. In addition, he helps individuals charged with low-level, drug-related crimes. He looks for them to receive access to community-based programs, such as addiction treatment and housing services, rather than go to jail.
Chessboards now sit outside Dundee Elementary. It was inspired by a lonely little boy and a concerned dad. Tim Cayford, who learned woodworking as a youngster, burned the game onto the stumps after two dying trees were cut down. Checkers can be played on them, too, and one doubles as a picnic table. Benches surround them, part of an Eagle Scout project. At the bottom of one chessboard, it reads “Gens una sumus,” the motto of FIDE, the international chess federation. It means, we are one family.
“Hopefully, friends and neighbors can gather around these places. Maybe a spark can be ignited to want to gather, in simplicity, even if you can’t speak the same language very well.” Cayford said. His son’s struggles to find a friend until he met a newcomer from Afghanistan prompted his idea. Both boys were in fourth grade. While the Cayfords were working on the chessboard, they met other families. Some play dates followed. Dad found some friends, too.