Dad to Dad 49 – Haki Nkrumah is devoted to helping teen fathers.
Haki Nkrumah: We got to keep our kids alive from domestic violence, domestic abuse. We have to fight for all that. Give them a chance. And once they have a chance, then I feel good. Some fathers say miss hockey, I can’t believe you. Not for us. I can’t believe I said, I’m not for you. I’m not for her. And for your child, they’re the molded vulnerable individuals on earth.
That’s why people say, why have I dedicated my life to Tina, your father? Cause they babies. That’s high key and Kruma, who’s devoted his life to helping young fathers be better dads. He started the charitable organization, young fathers of central Florida, and he guides young dads with multiple. Programs addressing the most important fatherhood issues.
Tom Couch: It’s a great story. And one, you should hear on this dad to dad podcast. Here’s your host, David her.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the dad to dad, podcast, fathers, mentoring, fathers of children with special needs. Presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation.
It’s a great way for dads to support dads, to find out more, go to 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if your dad looking for help or. We’d like to offer help. We’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to dad.
Tom Couch: So let’s listen now to the incredible story of Haki Nkrumah and the young fathers of central Florida.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with my friend Haki Nkrumah of Orlando, Florida, father of three. And army veteran and outspoken advocate for fathers through his young fathers of central Florida program. Hi key. Thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Haki Nkrumah: And good to speak with you today, David.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Leslie been married for 20 years.
One of the proud parents of three children, let’s start with some background. Tell me where you grew up. Tell me something about your family.
Haki Nkrumah: I grew up upstate New York Utica New York. I have seven brothers and sisters is five boys and two girls. We grew up in a close knit family, five boys. We can go to any basketball court and have a five play against anyone else.
So it was a rewarding experience growing up. And it’s funny because most people think from New York. That you’re not familiar with grass and homes, they think is all bricks and concrete. And that’s why a lot of my friends would be surprised to see pictures of actual house in grass, upstate New York. And, um, I tell them I’m, uh, I’m really a upstate New York country boy, because we used to play baseball and we used to hit home, runs in the cornfields.
And no one enjoy going in the cornfields, retrieving a ball. So I always say I’m a little, little New York country guy sounds like,
David Hirsch: feel the dreams.
Haki Nkrumah: Yes. Feel the despair. If you got home, run, hit against you.
David Hirsch: Good stuff. So, uh, you grew up in a large family. You had, um, four brothers and two sisters. And I remember you had mentioned in a previous conversation that, uh, you also had a cousin.
That, uh, grew up with you
Haki Nkrumah: as well. Yeah, it seemed like we had a lot of cousins, but, um, one of my cousins, Freddy, he was like a brother to us. So with him and all the friends we had there, it was just never a limit to how many people would be in a house sometimes. And you would say, who is that? And it might be one of our brother’s friends and, Oh, that’s my friend.
That’s. So my mother welcomed them all. And so that’s the type of family that I was fortunate to grow up
David Hirsch: in. That’s fabulous. So how would you describe your relationship with your dad
Haki Nkrumah: is strange because when I tell people some time, I never see my father in a pair of sneakers, or I’d never seen him in a pair of shorts.
I just seen him in suit and ties every day. And some people would look at that as though it was something like I was neglected somehow, but I had brothers, I have five brothers to play with, so my father needed to throw a ball to me and he didn’t need to do his thing. He was busy working two jobs to support me and all those miles that came in our house eating and he didn’t know he was feeding.
So. No, I didn’t feel neglected at all. And that’s what we talked to our fathers about that, you know, being a father and parenting is not just us particular mode that it comes in. You know, your father might throw you the ball or play catch with you or, or do different activities with you, but he might not, your father might not, but that does mean he’s less, less of a father to you.
He shows you less love because I’ve never felt that I didn’t have love and love all over the house. So. Of doing those particular things. And, and my father, you know, he was a supervisor in a copper plant called Revere copper. And, um, he worked hard. He put his overalls on, but when he drove to work, he drove with his suit and he finished his shift, put his suit back on.
He was also a deacon. So he was, you know, a man of faith. So he felt that when you walk out of that house, you dress appropriately. You present yourself to the world in a certain way.
David Hirsch: It’s a bang of respect to God.
Haki Nkrumah: Yes. And so we all understood that. It’s funny. We went on a cruise not too long ago and he, he took his jacket off.
We were like, okay. He got his jacket off and he loosened his tie. We was, we said, okay, he relaxing. This is the most he’s going to relax.
David Hirsch: That’s a good one. Well, if I remember correctly, your dad was also in the military.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. All of my brothers, my two oldest brothers were career guys or military guys. It wasn’t a requirement, but.
You know that what was kind of expected? I wasn’t a career guy. I went in and, um, I was fortunate to be stationed in South Korea. It was very positive and enlightening experience for me. I wouldn’t change it for a word out. It wasn’t all good of course. But it was an experience that I can take and say to myself, that’s something I can live with
David Hirsch: or helped shaped your character.
Haki Nkrumah: Met a lot of good people and had a lot of good young people. As a matter of fact, that’s what really kind of put me in a, um, emotional side of this fatherhood field.
David Hirsch: Okay. We’re going to get to that. Um, so I’d like to circle back about your dad. So I’m wondering, was there any advice you received or important lessons that you learned from your dad?
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah, I couldn’t, we’ll be here for hours. We’ll be here for hours. Cause he he’s a deacon. Yeah. Yeah. He’s a deacon. So he has something to say. Yeah, he reads it every, so you better be prepared. I remember I used to come home from college and my friends used to. Come over and say, they want to know when they could come see me.
They said, okay, well, your dad probably gonna take three or four hours with you. So, so, but, but it was just everything, everything life, you know, and I think what he talked about most was just being respectful to people, you know, just being respectful. So no matter who it is, but he didn’t want me like the cow down to people, you know, um, the submissive to, you know, to people, whether it, because of their money or their race, he didn’t see any of that, that you know, that I should bow to, but be, but be respectful.
So, so for example, like you, for example, you’re a white man and he wanted me to be respectful to you because you as a man, not cause he was a white man. You know, cause you don’t have nothing over me, you know, nothing. I don’t look at you. I use it period to me or any of that. So, but you are a man and if you are a good man, that’s when you show your, you know, your ultimate respect.
So that’s basically what he taught me. And that’s what we try to instill in our fathers that you know, that we work with, you know, you can respect people, but don’t, you know, Wow to
David Hirsch: them know don’t be judgemental. That’s one of the things I’m hearing. And it sounds like he was a man of a lot of words. If he was a deacon and he preached my sense without having met him is that he was a role model.
Right. And just with the way he conducted himself,
Haki Nkrumah: right. He spoke to kids, every, everyone that, that everyone that he spoke to just listen to him because. They knew he just, he didn’t have an agenda. He didn’t have any type of hidden agenda. So everyone, I mean, I seen white people, Hispanic, black people. They just like, he’s a total different person.
You know, I can see the biggest races in the world. Hey sir. I mean, I think he’s the first man of color that I ever heard a white man say cert too. So. That was just the respect that he got, because people know he will pull you out of fire no matter what you look like, no matter how much you’ve made, no matter what you look like, he’ll pull you out that fire.
And that’s what he taught me. Yeah.
David Hirsch: Well, what a wonderful role model and one that you can draw on, not only as a dad yourself, but to pass along in the work that you’re doing. I’m wondering if there’s anybody else that served as a father figure when you were growing up.
Haki Nkrumah: A lot of people, I had a godfather has his name was Jay’s black, Cher.
He did everything in the community. He was a director of the community center, cosmopolitan center. He, he was a local politician at times. He ran when he needed to, you know, he was very instrumental in my life. He used to talk to me about the world and he just talked to me about history, not just black history, but history and how it.
How black history related to that and how, you know, significant. He would talk to me about like famous inventors. African-American inventors, people who I’d never thought of in my life. He was someone that taught me a lot. Educationally. He went places where my father didn’t really go. My father really didn’t you go there.
And James would teach me things that intellectually. Put me head and shoulders above any white friend or black friend. I had, like, I could give history lessons to white guys that they mouths would be open and black guys that mile will be open. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood. I could talk to talions as the way no, that friend of mine could ever do.
And. And I just knew about Egypt bin so much is, you know, Israel and Jews. And I just, he just taught me that for hours and hours. And he had me repeat certain things. There was a time I knew every president of every African nation on the continent.
David Hirsch: Well, that’s really a gift. Um, maybe that wasn’t your dad’s strong suit, but to have another man come alongside you like that.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. There’s always those, those father figures in our father’s lives that, that touch them. And sometimes they don’t even realize that touching them. And that’s what we talk about, what our fathers, in our programs that, you know, there’s people that come across in. And even when I speak to women, you know, some women think, Oh, I can raise my child by myself.
No, you can’t. No, you can’t. So I’m not going to be politically correct to say you can. I’m not saying you can’t do adequate job and helping them to survive, you know, but it’s more to helping a young father and a young man to survive than it is to grow and develop as a man, as a father. So it is a difference.
We’re on the
David Hirsch: same page.
So, uh, from what I remember, you went from high school to college in Buffalo.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. I graduated from Utica free Academy and then I, um, attended university of Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo for four years. Graduated.
David Hirsch: And then from there you went into the military.
Haki Nkrumah: Yes. Yes. I went into the military a hundred first airborne division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky screaming, Eagles night stalkers.
And then I left there and went to Seoul, Korea. Can’t we jumbo.
David Hirsch: So if you’re an airborne, did you have to jump out of
Haki Nkrumah: planes? No, I jumped out of helicopters.
David Hirsch: You don’t know this about me, but I have a very close friend at home. He’s a Tuskegee airman, Lawton, walkers, and there’s his name? And he’s going to be listening to this interview. He’s 93 years old. We’ve just celebrated his 93rd birthday last month. And he knows that I’ve been skydiving a few times. He goes.
I don’t understand that no one would jump out of a perfectly good airplane unless it was going down.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. We jumped out of airplanes, but that wasn’t my MOS. That, I mean, that’s what I, I didn’t have to do that. We did that like, cause my, my MOS, I actually was like administrator, but I wanted to do everything.
You know, to brag to my brothers mainly.
David Hirsch: That’s very cool. I love it. So switching gears a little bit, um, I’m sort of curious to know, how did you meet Leslie?
Haki Nkrumah: In New York? We were both counselors in a program called the spark program. It was a program that started out initially as a, as a drug prevention program back in the sixties, but it developed into a, more of a.
Overall program for teen pregnancy, just counseling one on one counseling support groups for, for teens and youth. So it grew, and she was working at, I was working here and a friend of mutual friend of ours introduced us.
David Hirsch: So when you left the military, I’m wondering what your focus was or what your career aspirations
Haki Nkrumah: were.
It was working with fathers. Young young fathers. Cause when I left the military after developing a support group there in Korea, uh, I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do at the same time. Of course I wanted to be a bit, I always wanted to be a businessman and be an entrepreneur and make money and all that.
But things kind of changed. You know, I started looking to what I wanted to make me feel good. To see a young man write a letter and cry because he never written a letter in his life where he had to express his emotion of love other than, Oh baby, baby, baby. I love you. But to his child, that was enough for me.
I knew right then and there that no one was going to pull me from this work. And I’m doing it. I’ve been doing it ever since. No, one’s going to ever know I’ve gotten offered so much money to do so many different things. It’s just not adequate for me.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I admire your commitment at such an early age to be committed, to serving young families, young fathers for that matter.
And. When you’re started doing that work, you wouldn’t know that that would be your life’s work. Yeah. You can only look backwards and say, now I can see those seeds were planted. It sounds like at a very early age, maybe during the military. And then just beyond to know that that’s something that you had a heart for.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. I just always mess this up. A Mark Twain says something about this two times in a person’s life. The two most important times in a person in life is one. The day they were born and to the day they know why, you know it. And I knew why I got my why at a young age. So that’s why I was able to work on it.
We laser focused. On teen and young fathers, and I’ve gotten so many opportunities to work with just fathers. But then when I look at 90% of the fatherhood organizations in this country programs in this country, don’t begin engaging fathers to age 25, 26, but then you look at the infant mortality rate. In most of these communities, they deaths between newborn 18 months.
Look at the 60 to 75% are fathers 24 and under. So it’s almost like a moment where you say to yourself, like where, what are we missing here? Why isn’t dead, tons of money going into programs to save these newborns from newborn to 18 months and the fathers 24, 25 and under what? Where’s the money for that?
Where’s the focus for that? So that’s why I never, my first book was titled young fathers, the forgotten. And the reason I wrote that is because, you know, um, I wanted people to realize how isolated and ignored teen and young fathers are in this country. And not just in this country, internationally that gap there is just amazing.
These fathers are the most under represented and unsupported group of parents that we have. That the focus for these young fathers is important. My second one was titled teen fathers, the struggles and joys of fatherhood, that book talks to young fathers and it says it’s okay to be a father. You’re not some criminal, you’re not some sexual predator.
You’re not someone who life is over. There’s struggles in his joy. And the third book. Was a collaboration with dr. Claudia, Nick Fenton at the dune Cookman university. And we asked the a hundred fathers, teen and young fathers. I wish someone would have told me and they filled in the blank and we got answers from, I wish someone had told me that my baby.
Mama would be a crazy lunatics. And then on the other end is that I wish someone would have told me that I would have been able to love a person so much. Like my daughter. So it was from one end to the other. It’s funny. One father said, I wish someone had told me that I was going to give a young girl, all my money and all my love,
just a little pint size woman who couldn’t even talk 18 year old fathers say this, it just moves you. It just moves you. And that’s why we did it. We wanted to interview these fathers and we wanted to. Ask them, you know, I wish someone would have told me most of them were comments talking about how, you know, I wish someone would’ve told me that I didn’t believe my son was my twin and everything he did was me just to hear them talk in the, looks on their faces when they said those things was very
David Hirsch: important.
So I’m wondering, um, how has your work changed? From when you were first advocating for these young fathers as a young person yourself, until today, I know that, you know, you’ve written a number of books like you just made reference to, and you’ve worked in different parts of the country. So maybe you can reflect on the work that you were doing in New York first, before you came here to Florida.
Haki Nkrumah: I think that the young fathers feel more confident today than they did back then. Because back then there were some fatherhood programs. Like when I first relocated from New York to Orlando, there was not one teen fatherhood program in the state, or there was not one T and this was in 2006 to this day.
We are the only standalone five Oh one C three in the state of Florida. That focuses on TD on fathers. There’s no other five. We want to see the C registered. If they exist, we don’t know about them. Or there might be a fatherhood program. That’s a part of a larger agency like headstart or another agency like that.
So I think a lot of young fathers have more resources. There’s more young and teeny on fatherhood grants that are available. Funding that’s available. Now, the department of health human services are providing more and more grants for teen and young fatherhood programs because the teen and young fatherhood movement is.
Providing that spark that this fatherhood movement needs and something that you guys are doing that to me is phenomenal. And to me is going to be at the forefront of this whole movement for years and as fathers with special needs and special needs children. So. Those are the areas that we’re looking at.
Do you know, we have more 12 year old father than we ever had. We have more 13 year old, 1400 fathers. And another thing we have more grandmothers under the age of 30 now than we’ve ever had. We right now have 12 grandmothers in our organization, in our programming. That’s under the age of 30. We have two 27 year old grandmothers.
They have babies at 13, they daughters had babies at 13. We collect all this data. That’s why people across the country, teeny on father organization at our conference, they come there to collect data that we’ve been doing over the years and years of all these young fathers and their significant others, their, their parents, all these people.
So we have more and more of these young fathers, 12 years ago, having a 12 year old father. 10 years ago was like, now we got six years ago having a 13 year old father. We have one, maybe two. Now we got 27. It’s like.
David Hirsch: Mind-boggling.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah, but see, we’re not paying attention just like we’re not paying attention to our fathers with special needs and children with special needs are emphasize that because we have fathers with specialties and especially Bobby be a military people.
Always, they send people to me who are young soldiers who come back here, can’t get help limbs missing trauma. And these are young men under the age of 25. So we don’t look at them. We don’t look at like, when we, we do work in a correctional facility in Orlando, we have one father who child had his, he had a deformed arm and he was coming out of incarceration and he asked if we could help.
And we had to find out, he didn’t think he had an insurance. We find out that his grandmother had insurance. Or his mom, the child, grandma had insurance. So we was able to find a child, a specialist so that, so that he can get a prosthetic arm so he could do these things. So we do this every day. We do this every day.
This is something we do every day. So that’s why this is very, very important and is, is, is, is significant to our development as human beings, man, as people. Wow. You ain’t got white, black money, no money. I don’t care. Curly hair, no hair, all this craziness. It’s people, man. And these are children. They’re the most vulnerable individuals on earth.
That’s why people say, why have I dedicated my life to Tina, your father? Cause they babies.
David Hirsch: Those are kids having kids.
Haki Nkrumah: So if we don’t deal with them, are we going to wait till the 26? Okay. That child, that the former feeling like they’re not worthy of living. And we don’t deal with that. It just like our young fathers who have special needs, children who don’t have services, who don’t have anywhere to go to get any kind of help.
They feel helpless and didn’t, they feel inadequate. So they feel helpless because there’s no services, they feel inadequate because they feel like they harm their child. Then they start looking at themselves. Is it because I smoke weed? Is it because I was drinking? I had a father breakdown to me and I had to sit there and listen to him for hours.
He told me all the bad things that he did on before his baby mother was pregnant, wasn’t pregnant. And then what he was doing while she was pregnant and still having sex with her, he said, ms. Hockey, hi, I did cocaine and we, I did all types of drugs and then I had sex. And I didn’t have a condom. Did that make my baby messed up?
David Hirsch: She was carrying around the guilt.
Haki Nkrumah: How many people think of that? He was feeling guilty. He said I was snorting cocaine, and I was having sex. Did that mess my baby up. Wanted to kill himself just for that.
David Hirsch: That’s pretty heavy stuff. Let’s talk about your fatherhood conference. You’ve been doing it for seven years.
From what I remember,
Haki Nkrumah: this is my seventh year, seventh
David Hirsch: year. So what’s the purpose behind that? What’s the scope of the fatherhood conference and, uh, who attends
Haki Nkrumah: the apartment is behind. That is because as I mentioned earlier, most fatherhood organization in the country don’t even address teeny young fathers.
But to me, that’s a significant group of fathers. They’re very significant. So I would attend the larger conferences and they never had a platform for teeny on fatherhood organizations. So I said, I want to get. Teen and young fathers organizations and practitioners across the country, all in one room so that they can discuss best practices.
And what’s good happening. What’s what’s not so good. What’s not working because when I travel across the country and I meet individuals who do teaming on father’s day, I like they, the only ones, very isolated. Yeah. They all. So that’s one reason why I want to get them in a room and say, okay, let’s talk to how, how you’re getting your funding, where your funding coming from, how we can help each other.
How can we understand how to build our capacity in wherever we are? Because you have to build your capacity as an, as a program, as an organization, like, like my organization, people have to say, tell me about your program. I say, what program I said are you mean organization? I have nine programs. In my organization.
So which program do you want to talk about? So let’s not be mistaken. The fatherhood field teen and young fatherhood is, is, is, is separate and, and working with all fathers, that’s separate, just like working with following a specialty is separate. It’s something that you have to look at because most people are not focusing on it.
David Hirsch: understand
Haki Nkrumah: it because, because, because I can, I can do a workshop. I can do a child support workshop with family lawyers coming in and child support for all fathers. It’d be packed. It’ll be packed. No problem. Do it with teen fathers, you have two guys in there. It’s a struggle. Like I tell people, that’s why our work.
I tell everyone that conduit us. This is not easy. This is not a glamour job. We’re dealing with a difficult population. But once you connect with them, people always say that, like I put voodoo on these guys, hockey, how you get on how you get all these guys at you. These T fun, Dan, like a poodle, Dave. He said, what you doing?
You black magic or something?
David Hirsch: There’s food involved?
Haki Nkrumah: No, I don’t do the food thing. I don’t do the food thing. I don’t do to the other little perks that they give them. I don’t do all that. No, you and damn father. Does your job and you gave me, you know, cookies and ice cream, no bus tickets. I’m not giving you no.
Now if a guy needs a job and he on the job interview, he need to get there. We can help them get there. Okay. We, no, no, we don’t. We help them, but we’re not luring them with food. When, when guys come to us, when they get food, they don’t know what’s coming.
David Hirsch: So let’s talk about your young fathers of central Florida program.
You mentioned earlier that there’s nine programs. Yes. And I’d like you to, just to hit on the highlights.
Haki Nkrumah: Okay. There’s nine programs and one, we have a dad to dad mentoring program where we match an older father with a young father for a one year commitment. Then we have our teen fatherhood Academy.
Which is a program we provide in high schools. That’s for 14 and 19 year old fathers. Then we have our father support group, which is we allow all fathers, grandfathers, significant others. What we do is we just want an opportunity for fathers to be able to communicate about what’s going on in their lives was difficult.
And, you know, cause more than likely another father is going through a situation or going through situation. We also have a barter group that we’ve had for eight years. Any guy in their group, that’s the mechanic. We all go to him. Any guy like my air condition guy, he started in our group eight years ago.
Then we have our parent training. That’s for all fathers or mothers or grandmothers, or we have a special session for grandparents alone because they want to know ms. Nakia. Tell me about that twin. Tell me about that twin, that, that Twitter. They said. Tell me about that. Tell me about that. That Facebook in time.
I said it’s called Facebook without Facebook in time.
David Hirsch: That’s too far.
Haki Nkrumah: So. But the fact is Dave, we got to talk to them. No, one’s talking to them about this. So when they hear their children and their grandchildren talk about these things, because some of their grandchildren know more about it than they do.
So we do all of that. So that’s our parent training. Um, we have our, just the gentlemen program, which is a. A prevention program for our 10 to 13 year old boys. We don’t want them to be in any of our other programs. We want to prevent them as a character and etiquette development program for 10 to 13 year old boys.
And we, and we grow and we grouped them to 10, 11, 12, 13, because we don’t have the attendance with the 13 year old. And then we keep them at 15. You know, a piece and that’s a year and a half waiting list right there. So that’s a program that is emotional to us because so many of them can’t get into a program until a year.
David Hirsch: So this past year she registered the age issue.
Haki Nkrumah: No, is, is the capacity. We don’t, we don’t have the there’s so many people. And they coming from communities, counties like outside of orange County. And then we have our fatherhood Institute at a college level. We started at, but don’t cook the university. So we work with college students and we have a lot of interstate issues there because the father is in one is in Daytona beach.
We don’t cook Nunez, but then the child might be in another state. We even had one issue where a father, mother was in Canada in a fall living in Daytona. She was from Canada. They had a baby. She moved to Canada. Because of the health care system, there was more beneficial for
David Hirsch: her
Haki Nkrumah: child issue. Right. So, and then, and then we have our correctional, we go into correctional facility and we work with fathers.
We have a young father initiative and the correctional facility, that’s the father I told you that had the child with a deformed are okay. And then, and then we have our, um, new program we have is a fatherhood initiative where we do case management for 25 fathers for a year. So we follow these fathers for year and do case management with them for year.
And we work on two specific goals that they have as parents for that year. And then we have initiative with the recreation center system. In Lawrence County and the city of Orlando, there’s almost 50 recreation centers that we work with. Get midnight basketball programs, they’re programs where there’s fathers, because it’s funny when I walk across the country and people have a problem recruiting teeny on fathers and, and I asked them, you know, how many basketball programs you have in the city?
You know, they don’t even know. So you can get a number of fathers in midnight basketball tonight. You will have these 10 to 15. Young fathers there. So you can get an S at night, so you should have no problem recruiting teeny or fall. You have to go to them. You can’t put a flyer in child support, inspect them, look at that.
David Hirsch: It’s like build it and they will come. It doesn’t work that way.
Haki Nkrumah: Right? Right. No, no, no. So those, so those are programs. So we in the recreation centers, we in the colleges, we in the high schools, we in the jails. Mentor dad to dad mentoring. We do prevention for individuals who are not fathers yet. Those are the programs that we have and, and, and each year unfold.
Some people say, I should be happy, but they grow. But the funding nothing catch up with them. It’s just like my Jensen gentlemen program. The first time I did that, it was for 15 families, 15 young men. And I was going to meet all the families at Jackson community center. So I go there and David and I was living at the people there.
I was like, you people don’t care about these kids. You got another program. Are you in there? You know, I had this place reserved. They said, ms. Hockey, all those people here for you, this a hundred families. Oh,
David Hirsch: well,
Haki Nkrumah: I said, what are you, what are you talking about? They said, they here for you. I said, how did they work out around.
Dave, I’ll go in there. I see little kids in a suit parents, and I got a man come in, the man, come in. So people thought out, we’ll be happy about that, but I was kind of sad because that’s the need people. I talk about the need. That was more clear to me. I had a room standing only,
David Hirsch: or
Haki Nkrumah: off for the little kids.
They get some etiquette and character development training.
David Hirsch: Very powerful. So you described program after program and you know, from every perspective or so many perspectives, how large is your organization? How many employees do you have full
Haki Nkrumah: time? I don’t have any employees. We have volunteers and we have consultants.
We don’t have the funds to just have employees. We have volunteers that have been working with professionals. 10 12 years. And we have consultants who do our training.
David Hirsch: I don’t know how you accomplish everything. You
Haki Nkrumah: don’t question. We hire consultants. They, they come do the training is no time where they in the office throwing balls in garbage cans.
We don’t do that kind of stuff. You go in, you do your training for two hours and that’s bad. And then you get paid for that. So that’s how we pay our people for the actual work that they do. We don’t pay people for off time. I mean, you know, we don’t do that and we have volunteers, but most of our trainings, like.
And corrections we’ll have guys who been correction officers or been, you know, um, social workers who worked a situation like that, or the college campus. We have ex present professors or expert Fest as well. You got to have experience knowing how to do it, to get the job done. When I first got here, they was like, how are they doing so much?
And they thought we was, I never forget. The first time is this report that came down to our office. She said, okay, where’s the real office. Where were the other office? So you look, people, I said, this is it for, for example, the community centers. Like we go there. We do the work fair in the community.
Because when I relocated from New York, I didn’t have any money. So I was like, okay, how am I going to do this first program? It was a parent training program. I went to the community center, Kellyanne community center. They had a computer lab, they had a, uh, classrooms, they had all this. So I said, how can I get in here?
What did, what do we call? They said, you want to do a program doing what? Helping your own father. They said, well, look, fill out this application. You ain’t, you ain’t got to pay much. I said, there you go. I went to another community center. I said, I want to run a program here. Can I use your gym? All the guys that come in from midnight basketball, can they sign up for my program?
They said, well, we can’t force them, but we can suggest to them that if they daddies, they got to go see mr. Hockey. So. People wondered how I was doing so much with so little. I said, I’m not going anywhere. Begging I’m gonna use the resources in the community. And when I travel across the country, working with teen father organization, I tell them the same thing.
What resource do you have in your community? What agencies have a room that you can do? Some training, all you need is a room. Invite the fathers in. That’s all go to child support, say child support. Can you have one guy come down and do some child support training? You know how many young guys go to law firm?
You do family law. That’s all you gotta do is it’s not as difficult as people think, but you gotta be committed and you gotta work. And like I said, they always think I’m putting something over someone how I can get all this stuff done.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, it’s very impressive. And I’ll just tell you as a, not for profit leader, myself, I’m running very lean organizations, mostly volunteer organizations.
Um, you can get a lot done, uh, with the hearts of volunteers as opposed to having to pay people. And this is their job, right? They’re inspired by you. They’re inspired by the work that’s being done. And it’s okay to pay consultants, right? These are sort of contract employees.
Haki Nkrumah: They come in and do training.
We can’t get them health insurance. We can give them all that, but they come in and do their job. And most of them have jobs. Anyway, I did it in New York. I did it here. That’s how I survived. That’s how I built. My organizations. That’s how I built in the have nine program. And half of them have waiting lists of over a year.
That’s how I did it with very little funds.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s quite impressive. Um, and you’ve got a lot of staying power cause you don’t have a lot of overhead, right?
Haki Nkrumah: Nope. 13 years.
David Hirsch: That’s amazing.
Haki Nkrumah: Over a decade. Didn’t know one person in the entire state, not just the city of Orlando. I didn’t know one person in the state of Florida, not one.
David Hirsch: let’s switch gears. I want to talk a little bit about advice. I’m wondering if there’s some important takeaways that you can share about working with teen fathers in particular, if there was one or two things that you’d say that these are the most important things to focus on when you’re engaging those 12 or 13 or 15 or 17 year olds
Haki Nkrumah: patients.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s the one thing we’re working with young fathers, teen fathers as patients, because they don’t have patients themselves because they’re adolescents and we can do studies. You can look at any study of adolescence and that’s the one thing that most of them don’t have is patients. So if you don’t have as a professional patients, then that’s a problem.
That’s going to be a problem for you, cause they’re not gonna, most of them not invested in, into Parenthood. They, they’re not invested into it. And as I mentioned before, most older fathers, it’s easy to get them involved because they’re invested. Like they can get their professional license taken away, their plumbing license, like electrical devices.
They can get professional licensed, tentative, but they can get their driver’s license taken away. Teen fathers don’t have any of that. They don’t have professional license. They don’t have driver’s license. They, and they’re not even legal. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You know, the biggest we get the most inquiries.
There’s one quarter, we get the most inquiries of all the years from fathers and that’s the first quarter. Why cause of Texas, a lot of them get their taxes withheld. It’s how you got to do something for me. You got to do something for me. They said you can handle things. They held my taxes. I said, so how much your rear is 25,000.
I said, what you, you driving a nice Cadillac out there and you got more gold chains and I’ve seen in awhile, what’s the problem. Oh, no, you know how to be at TCH is I said, Oh, okay. Now, uh, so you know, these guys are just not invested the younger guys. You’re not going to garnish their check. And most of these minority communities, you got 70% unemployment.
So seven out of 10 in the morning, unemployed. So you’re not garnishing that check. You’re not putting them in jail for not paying child support because they don’t pay it. You know? So. Patience. You got to have patience with these guys because they they’re not invested in any, anything, and they don’t see why they should do something.
And if the baby mama don’t like them, cause they got a new girlfriend, it won’t let them see that baby. They say, well, see, she won’t let me see my baby. So
David Hirsch: very immature.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. So, so, you know, patients, patients is, is a, is a big thing. And, and to me, listening to them because. They all have the story that most people not listening to, whether they’re living with their child’s mother’s mama.
Cool. Making them feel like they’re no good. Cause they don’t have a job. They got to tell them every day, get a damn job, get a job, get here. And they living in the house. Some fathers say they only want to come home at night. That’s why they hang out with their friends to a time and go to sleep because the baby mama would be the baby mama.
Mama is berating them or the baby mama. So when you got two women, men didn’t have one woman. On your back. Imagine having to the baby mama and her mama telling you you ain’t no good. And so that’s why people look at me Dave day said, why you do this? Because
David Hirsch: you used to have
Haki Nkrumah: years ago. Remember I’ve been doing this a long time. I ain’t got a mustache, bro. So. So, yeah. Yeah. Um, you know, um, just patients and just listening to what they’re going through, because all these guys go through different things and, and we, and we laugh about it. Both of us are seasoned professional father gods, but it’s just reality, man.
No one want to work with these guys because of what we talking about. And that’s the sad part because they’re the ones that babies are in most jeopardy. I mean, just look at our parent training programs. The reason we let so many mothers come in because these young girls don’t know what they doing. They feed in the baby cereal.
One, one little girl, you Misaki the baby crying. She called my house too with them two or two o’clock in the morning. She she called myself is I came my baby won’t stop crying. I said, what’d you feed it? None. I just gave him some cereal early today. I said, girl, she’s a newborn, her system clocked up. So whether it’s something as simple as that, you know, and nippy taught, uh, Dick girlfriends who don’t, who 1560, then they being taught by Dick mamas who 29, who are trying to get ready to go to
David Hirsch: the club.
Haki Nkrumah: No baby.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, um, the takeaway that I heard was to have patients and to let them be heard, right? Yeah. Or listening to them, which is crystal clear to me. So I’m wondering why is it that you have agreed to be a better father? Like you have
Haki Nkrumah: children, the survival of children, you know, a popular term is, is, um, every year, you know, children, our future.
Right, but you got to say that more than just black history month monitor the King day, choose a fusion 365 days. And until we understand that as a society, and I’m not saying this expected people to pour money into our programs, but they going to pay one way or another period. So our children are our future.
And, and to me, I do that more. That’s why some fathers say miss hockey, I can’t believe you. Not for us. I can’t believe I said I’m not for you. I’m not for her and for your child, because see, you could fend for yourself. You can speak, you can make decisions. Your child can, okay. The child waiting for you to make decisions.
You can change the child and the child need to be changed. Or when you choose to change the child, you can feed the child and it needs to be fit. Or when you choose to feed the child. So the child will have more choices. That’s why I’m here. So that’s why I don’t give a damn about you. Oh, either one, I’m here to help you.
But don’t get it twisted. I’m not here one side or the other. And for me right now, and anything I need to do to help this child to have a chance, I’m not saying I want this child to grow up to be the president. All I wanted the child to have a chance to survive. That’s it. And not be a statistic. That’s all.
Anything else, man? I don’t, I don’t really, to me. I don’t care.
David Hirsch: You know, I like to think that it’s a notch, it at least a notch above survival, which is to hopefully help them reach their God given potential.
Haki Nkrumah: Yeah. A chance. That’s you got to give him, like, we don’t know, like I said, I don’t know if they’re going to be president or doctor or a teacher or.
A man that come in here, pick up trash and get paid to help his family. I don’t know what he, but give him a chance to survive that. That’s all I’m saying, give them a chance to survive so they can become whatever they can become. Cause we, you know, Hey, why not going to be present a by not going to be loyal, everybody, not going to be whatever, give them a chance.
But if we, if we don’t give him a chance to damn survive game over. Yeah. There’s nothing to talk about. Where are we going to bury them? Are they going to be cremated or are they going to be buried? What what? So that’s my main thing. That’s why I say, look, we gotta help these weather. You know, when we deal with classes of, um, domestic abuse, we, you know, we work with fathers.
I just left a seminar today that I wasn’t part of, but we got to keep our kids alive from domestic violence, domestic abuse, and neglect. All those things. We have to fight for all that, give them a chance. And once they have a chance, then I, then I feel good once, once they get a chance, once, once they have that chance.
And when we work with all our young fathers and that’s what, you know, cause I’m a Florida Supreme court certified family mediator. I do mediation divorce, the separation. I do that also. And we’re not taught to, you know, for the ninth, ninth circuit. And um, when I talk to clients and I talk to them, that’s what it’s about.
When they argue back and forth, I said, you got a picture. I pull out the picture of their kids. What am I on the table? Now who’s talking about you with them, which one? And we talking about you, we can stop this right now. What if we want to talk about them? Would you allow, I asked them, would you allow a person you don’t know.
The common to your home and make the decisions about what your child would need for dinner. Would you allow that well, when you were mediation, did the cohorts, if you two, not mature enough to make decisions, they got to make that decision. A judge who don’t know you a little Malcolm, although she needs no, no.
Any of you. Well, Becky, he making a decision. So that’s what you’re doing. You allowing this man, you don’t know, you haven’t seen any old life to come into your home and make a decision that you could easily make.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I love what you’re doing and the focus that you have on what’s in the best interest of the child and not taking sides, even though everybody wants to take a side and helping them focus, continue to focus, be a laser beam on.
What are the priorities? So I’m wondering if there’s anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up
Haki Nkrumah: what I appreciate. I appreciate us going through this and this frigid room. Um, It’s funny, cause I’ll never know what to wear in Florida. I never wear the right things now. Normally it would be hot in here, but, um, I just appreciate the, the, the, the tension that teeny on fatherhood that you’re giving and, um, fathers and always say fathers with specialties and father with children with special needs, because sometimes we.
Only think of the child and not the father, but understanding that he has to deal with his whole issues before he even deal with it. You know? And there’s father who has special needs, who have a child and they, they still feel inadequate. So just bringing that. To the forefront is very, very important to me because I, you know, I just always been the type that worked with those individuals who society is not really focusing on thinking about, you know, for you to be involved with this, with this focus for so many years and doing so much for it.
I’m just, I’m just, um, Thankful to be a part of it, you know, with it. And you giving attention to teen and young fathers, that group of fathers who out just feel so isolated and ignored because it’s more than just 45 year old fathers in our world. There’s more than just 40 year old files in our world. And more than 35 year old, you have some young fathers who assault ill-equipped and Sula who are so confused and lack of support.
That is just amazing that we just look over them as though they’re, they’re not important. And the reason, another reason why I work so diligent with them is because they’re the ones who are continually having babies, you know, 44 year old men and not getting too many girls pregnant. But when you have one guy, we call Rico suave, a who’s 22 with nine children.
Now how many children you think he’s going to have by the time he’s 32. Just getting him to understand and responsibility of fatherhood. Someone asked me one time, what’s the best form of birth control. I always say responsible father,
David Hirsch: hang some dollar signs out there.
Haki Nkrumah: So you know, it, you know, it’s just that, it’s important that we look at these guys and say that. That’s the struggle that we have. So when I mentioned how, when my colleagues, how are you still ask, how are you still working with these knuckleheads? Because they’re still have babies.
So if we’re not dealing with them, they’re going to continually continue to have babies as we go Swami going to be 32, what? 18 kids. So
David Hirsch: that’s amazing.
Haki Nkrumah: I’ll just say that.
David Hirsch: So if somebody wants to get involved, Or get information about the young fathers, essential Florida, be involved with the conference, support the conference, get a copy of any of your books, contact you.
What’s the best way about going and doing that.
Haki Nkrumah: Um, website young fathers of central florida.com. Go on our website, email me at you. Mojatwelve@aol.com. Um, they can just contact us and we would definitely, um, The back to them. People leave messages all the time and we get back to them.
We try to get back to everyone within 24 hours a week, and we call that a rapid response, rapid response, 20, 24 hours. I mean, we try to.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So high key, thank you for taking the time. And many insights as reminder at key is just one of the dads. Who’s agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers, raising young children, as well as children with special needs.
If you’d like to be a mentor, father are seeking a mentor father to some more situation to your own. Please go to 21stcenturydads.org. Haki Thanks again.
Haki Nkrumah: Thank you David. I appreciate it.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening. The dad to dad podcast is produced by Couch Audio for the Special Fathers Network. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process.
New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group.
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Tom Couch: If you enjoy our podcast, be sure to like us on Facebook or subscribe on iTunes, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And to find out more about the Special Fathers Network. Go to 21stcenturydads.org. Thanks for listening.