When Cynthia Jefferies, my high school classmate, gave me a call about BloomUpstate, she said the focus of the organization was “children without fathers”. While wanting to give back to my hometown, I never thought about this avenue. After talking a little more, I agreed to be considered for the board. My main reason was this… I divorced in 1999. I had a choice to do one of two things. One, divorce my then wife. Two, divorce my then wife and son. My choice ended up being, divorcing just my then spouse. It is one of the best and hardest decisions of my life. With that said, I made a commitment to have my son sit at my dinner table every Friday night and every other weekend we spent together. He was five years old when we started and we kept this up until he went to military school in the 10th grade. I am so glad I did what I did. Having him in my life, and not estranged, made me a better person. And I believe, me being in his life made him a smart, caring young man. During his first year of military school, I drove every two weeks to see him. It was a 3 and half hour drive each way. I left early Saturday morning after a full week of work. I made an effort his last two years of school to see him every two weeks. However, some weekends he and his friends would come to visit on weekend pass.
My son graduated Military School and received a full ride (for four years) to Wofford College. He graduated in 2014 with honors while majoring in Government and Chinese. Since then he has lived in China for a year and visited on 3 other occasions. He is only 26 years old.
Why do I mention all of this? Because he could have grown up without me as his father. I could have vanished and not supported him. I decided to be in his life…throughout his life. And today he is a fine young man with an exciting future. My goal is to be his guide and coach for the remainder of my life.
I have asked myself from time to time, what would he be like if I had decided to vanish and not be engaged in his life. Chances are…he would have become another statistic, a lost soul, or even worst incarcerated.
So, being a part of an organization that addresses “children without fathers” could not be a more worthwhile mission for me. And simply…Black men need to be engaged with their children.
Now retired, I bring with me a vast background from an adventurous career. I spent over 13 years in television news. My roles range from a local TV reporter at WLOS TV in Asheville to an Assistant News Director in Charlotte to a Satellite Coordinator in Boston, to a Managing Editor in Baltimore. Following that I managed video production companies in Baltimore and Washington, DC. Then I went into Sports broadcasting working with the Washington professional basketball and hockey teams. That then led to management roles in event management with Fannie Mae and The World Bank. After consulting for a while, I had a successful career government contracting as a project manager and business development executive for nearly 30 years. During that time, I was a key member of the strategic planning process, focusing on how companies grow their revenue in a contracting environment. This not only focused on revenue, but the requirements of infrastructure to support growth.
Spartanburg is also my home. After being away for nearly 45 years, I returned home in 2015 with a key goal to “give back” to his community.
In addition to BloomUpstate, I am engaged in the following civic activities:
- President – Carver All Class Reunion 2018/2020
- President – Carver Class of 1969
- Vice Chairman – ReGenesis Healthcare
- Established Carver High School Oral History project with Spartanburg County Libraries
- Former Treasurer (1.5 years) Tyger Shoals Homeowners Association.
- Co-Class Agent for Livingstone College 1973 Class Reunion 2018/2023
- Completed Spartanburg Water’s Water Academy Fall 2018