By James Pearson
Patrick Patterson, MSW, MPH, president/founder of Global Partners for Fathers & Families LLC, spoke about the important role of fathers at DCCC’s Marple campus Sept. 30.
His seminar, in partnership with the Black & Latino Male Achievement Initiative titled “ACT 101 Empowerment Series,” focused on inspiring students.
Patterson talked about his life growing up with a father who abused alcohol and the story of how he met President George W. Bush, which led to working for Bush for four years as part of the Father Initiative in 1999.
Patterson has delivered more than 700 training sessions, technical assistance consultations, and grant writing workshops
at conferences in 42 states, Mexico, Mongolia, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
Nearly all seats in the small auditorium were filled as students waited for Patterson to speak. While waiting for the seminar to begin, students enjoyed pizza and beverages until it was time to commence.
During his presentation, Patterson described his journey.
When Patterson was 15 years old, his father left him because of a drinking problem and “being involved in the streets,” Patterson said, adding that when he was in high school he played basketball to get his mind off his father’s issues and finished with a 1.3 GPA.
“It was difficult to live a normal life because of the issues that my father was going through,” Patterson said. He realized he needed a change of perspective.
Sherani Ashford Patterson, his wife, said about their relationship “If you want to be with me you have to go to college.”
Patterson added that it was because of his wife, the book Failing Forward by John Maxwell and the Bible that led him to take the right turn in his life and was challenged to do things in a different way.
Patterson afterward attended Benedict College where he made the Dean’s List for four years before receiving a Bachelor of Social Work degree.
A few days later, Patterson received a call from the White House to have a
meeting with President Bush about being involved in the Father Initiative.
“In 1993, Don Eberly, a civil society scholar, organized 20 of the nation’s leading social experts to meet in Aspen, Colorado to discuss reserving father absences,” according fatherhood.org. “After awhile, the National Fatherhood Initiative was created with Wade Horn as its first president, David Blankenhorn as its first board chairman, a board of directors including leaders such as Dr. Louis Sullivan and George Gallup, and advisory board of James Earl Jones, Willard Scott, and Bill Bennett.”
Patterson later joined the National Fatherhood Initiative.
During his meeting with the President he was asked what he was passionate about and he answered it was his father.
When Patterson was offered the job he prayed with his wife about where he should be relocated and chose to pick Philadelphia where he worked directly under President Bush.
Today, Patterson has successfully written and led grant-writing efforts that have resulted in state, Foundation, and Federal grant awards resulting in more than $40 million dollars, according to his website www.globalpartnersff.com.
As Patterson concluded his story students asked questions about the relationship that he now has with his father
and how fathers can be more involved in their child’s life.
Roland Sharp, who majors in social work, asked Patterson, “What do you do with youth that have lost their fathers.”
Patterson responded, “Youth need to think about their circle by being connected with their father’s story.”
Jay Shedrick III, another student in the HVAC program, asked Patterson, “What did you have to do mentally to go from a 1.3 GPA to a 4.0 GPA.”
Patterson replied, “It is what you say to yourself and by thinking what could go right.”
In talking about his father, Patterson emphasized “the importance of forgiveness.” “I feel that the relationships that you keep are important, especially with good people,” he said.
Patterson added he wants people to understand the importance of doing something that they love and doing it for free.
“When the opportunity knocks take it,” he said. “Learn what your why is and take the chance.”