GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A partnership in Kent County to uplift fathers in the African American and Latino communities is taking their support online.

It’s called Manhood Monday and the virtual event focuses on different themes of improving health and wellness.

“As Black men, we’re in the community,” Robert Lloyd said. “My main role model is my dad. My dad was always in the community. He was a roofer. He worked 12 hours a day, but he was always at the city council meetings, the school board meetings, and everything, always in the community helping out. … I said, ‘When I have kids I want to be that way.'” 

Strengthening families for a healthy start: That’s the idea behind the complimentary program a part of the Strong Beginnings federal program that started in 2004. 

Strong Fathers began in 2011 creating partnerships with several local community agencies and putting community health workers directly in touch with families.

The group works to lower infant mortality rates and provides resources in the Black and brown communities.

“When it comes to workforce development, education, housing, transportation and social network development those are the key factors that we feel in a fathers life can really change their life,” said Adnoris Torres, the project supervisor of Strong Beginnings.

Strong Beginnings offers individual support for men, support groups and father-child activities. 

Manhood Monday continued after the pandemic ended in person sessions. 

“This month (is) specifically focusing on the representation of Black fathers in the community making sure that we don’t only emphasize during February for Black History Month, but as a life course,” Torres said.

This upcoming Manhood Monday will showcase the power and strength of the Black family and community.

 “Having Rob come into our space virtually is going to be amazing. Being a father of young women, experiencing life from Detroit to Grand Rapids, being able to be a student at Grand Valley State University, we just felt that the story itself is so powerful that that example can show other men in community, other Black men in community, that with education, being out in the community, you can achieve what you set your dreams out to be,” Torres said.

Manhood Monday is an organic conversation touching on what it’s like to be a Black father. 

Robert Lloyd with his daughters. (Courtesy Robert Lloyd)
Robert Lloyd with his daughters. (Courtesy Robert Lloyd)

“I plan to share how it is to have a dad and with girls. And that’s why I love the Manhood Mondays because we come together as men and sometimes I feel like its group therapy,” Lloyd said. “Because we come together and express — ‘I have three girls and if they are having a situation this way, well how do you react this way?'”

“I think because we see so many I would say negative stereotypes of black men and I want to reflect the positive aspect of that so that when they do see me in the community or like I said Beau they see a positive aspect and not a negative aspect,” he said.

It will be streamed live on the Strong Fathers Facebook page and website. 

“Just come out, see what we are about, it’s not going to hurt,” Lloyd said. “It’s via zoom just to tune in, you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want. Come, look, see how we as men come together to communicate especially as Black men.”

Strong Father’s is accepting referrals. Virtual Manhood Monday happens on the second Monday each month with different themes.