“Everybody has a fatherhood story,” says Patrick. “Some great, and some…not so great.” Regardless of the story, he continues, “these stories connect us. They deepen the bond between parents and their children.”
It’s a bond he sees—and helps strengthen—every day, across the U.S. And the world.
As one of ICF’s Training and Technical Assistant leads, you’ll often find Patrick working with fathers directly, with NFL players who are fathers, or conducting fatherhood training with agencies or at a family strengthening conference in the US and abroad. (He’s already visited 7 different countries and 45 U.S. states.) “It’s eye opening,” he reflects. “Despite cultural differences, the level of family dysfunction is consistent.” More importantly, “regardless of ethnicity, the tears from father absence, all look the same, in every country.”
What snake never skips dessert? A pie-thon!
A married father of 2, the work is personal for Patrick. And rewarding. “In all my years doing this, I’ve never felt like I’ve been at work.” Which is easy to understand, when you look at some of what his team creates. Though the project is a year-round effort, “Father’s Day is like our Super Bowl!”
Each June, our team partners with the Ad Council to share new ways to “Take Time to be a Dad Today.” Then beams with pride, as they see the stakeholder engagement—that is, dads sharing memories-in-the-making. Patrick’s own daughters inspired this year’s #DanceLikeADad campaign (“they always giggle when I dance,” he admits), which somehow topped last year’s #DadJokesRule. This year’s efforts were featured on Good Morning America, thanks to dad (and Good Morning America co-host) Michael Strahan.
Ask Patrick to pick his favorite campaign, and you won’t get far. “It’s like picking my favorite child!” Though, when pressed, he’ll admit the cheerleader PSA always makes him smile. (Possibly because it was his first. Possibly because it’s gone viral 10 times over. Probably because it’s one of our first to go viral.) Another one he’ll never forget is the Army father surprising his daughter. “It was actual footage—we didn’t practice it. And if it doesn’t make you cry, well…you don’t have eyes!”
Engaging Fathers 365 Days a Year
Father’s Day makes the initiative memorable. But fatherhood.gov is more than a placeholder for catchy PSAs. Kids who grow up with a present, engaged dad are more likely to stay in school—and less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. When they grow up, these kids are more likely to have good jobs and healthy relationships.
It also explains why the Clearinghouse fields hundreds of calls a year from dads and parents in crisis. “Our call center is staffed with people trained in conflict management,” Patrick explains. “We provide legal education and support to help dads and moms find the resources they need. And do our best to soothe tense situations.” Though callers remain anonymous, the center sees each case through to resolution. “We have a lot of great memories from people we’ve helped.”
With this as your backdrop, it’s no wonder why.