BY ALYSSA LAUBACH
Eric Beamon could not have imagined his journey as a father beginning the way it did. For most, a picture-perfect arrival and delivery is expected. For Eric, it began when his daughter Callie Arie Beamon was born at just 29 weeks and 1-day old, weighing only 1 pound and eight ounces. Callie was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a lengthy 64 days. Eric and his wife, Danyelle, were grateful to God for their miracle. Like most parents Eric and Danyelle were anxious in the days following the birth of their child, only their anxiety was compounded. In the aftermath, Eric joined a support group as a means of helping him along his journey.
The experiences navigated during the birth of Callie led Eric to found Manhood 805, a faith-based male empowerment group. He chose 805 to represent Callie’s birthday, August 5. The organization evolved into a faith-based community outreach program designed to help men reach a deeper state of connection to their heart, loved ones, and purpose of life. Eric travels throughout the community offering trainings and activities to help fathers break negative cycles, learn communication skills, and learn to be active fathers. These trainings encourage the fathers to strive to be advocates and empowered men in the community. Eric uses a spiritual foundation to lead the men. The group prays at the beginning and end of each workshop.
One of Manhood 805’s primary initiatives is the Barbershop Outreach Project (adapted from the “Barbershop Literacy Project”). It is an approach to get men of local communities to become more actively involved with their children and in the community. The project asks barbershops in local communities to create child-friendly reading spaces and designate an area to hold fatherhood workshops. The project is designed for fathers to not only get groomed while at the barbershop, but to also learn fathering, parenting, and relationship skills.
This project provides literacy skills by creating opportunities for fathers to bond and act as mentors for their child or other men, women, or children. In order to participate, barbershops must agree to the following: Believe that you can make a difference in the life of a child. Be willing to share space in your barbershop with a bookshelf full of children’s books. Encourage children to read. Be willing to share what you know about literacy development with your patrons. Allow “Barbershop Talks” (Fatherhood workshops) to be held at your barbershop.
Thankfully, Eric and Danyelle’s daughter, Callie, faced no major health issues and is currently 8 months old! Their story brings hope to many families going through similar circumstances.
Eric is now a trainer for Families First for Mississippi and leads trainings on fatherhood, parenting, and youth development in the community. Families First for Mississippi provides programming on these topics and job readiness, workforce development, and literacy to strengthen families in Mississippi. Families First for Mississippi is excited about partnering with Manhood 805. This will help continue the Fatherhood program’s mission to empower fathers by emphasizing life skills, parenting skills, job readiness, and money management.
Alyssa Laubach is the Media Coordinator for the Mississippi Community Education Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.