In a society that dedicates most services and programs to women and children, the Native American Fatherhood & Families Association is striving to pay attention to the unique needs of Native men as valuable family participants.
The Association is currenly hosting the largest Native American Conference on Fatherhood and Families, November 4-6, at the Phoenix Mesa Marriot Hotel in Mesa, Arizona.
The Mesa-based nonprofit was founded in 2002 by Albert M. Pooley, Hopi and Navajo, to strengthen Native families through responsible fatherhood. The organization operates by the virtues that families are the heart of Native cultures, and fatherhood and motherhood are the most important jobs.
"Native fathers are the greatest untapped resource for their families and communities," the Association states. "With correct information and support they can find their true potential. Desperation can be transformed into hope and discouragement into self-worth and purpose. To truly honor the past we must improve upon the present by having hope and confidence in our fathers to strengthen families and bring unity to our Native Nations."
Mr. Pooley grew up immersed in his Hopi and Navajo cultures on the reservation, "where the love of a father taught him outstanding life lessons," his bio states.
Pooley, who holds a Masters of Social Work and Masters of Public Administration, has extensive experience as a marriage and family counselor. Himself a father, he finds joy in teaching principles that are relevant to his Native culture.
Pooley created the organization's Fatherhood/Motherhood Is Sacred programs, for which the nonprofit has trained and certified over 300 facilitators, who lead a 12-week course offered to mothers and fathers in over 90 tribes and 12 urban centers across the United States. Since 2002, approximately 9,000 Native fathers and mothers have participated in Fatherhood/Motherhood Is Sacred with outstanding results, the Association says.
The three-day Native American Conference on Fatherhood and Families will feature tracks on fatherhood, health and human services, criminal justice and education. The Association marketed the conference to fathers, mothers, family members, law enforcement, community leaders, Tribal leaders, and any service provider who works with fathers and families, particularly in head start, early childhood, social services, courts and probation, behavioral health, domestic violence and substance abuse.