Father Time

Chautauqua Opportunities is giving fathers an opportunity to create with their child.

On Thursday, Chautauqua Opportunities held its monthly “Dedicated Dads” event, encouraging fathers to take an active role in bonding with their children.

“We’ve been doing this for a while,” said Mike Tobio, Chautauqua Opportunities life skills facilitator and male involvement coach. “Tonight we’re making birdhouses – every month we tried to bring a new activity. We started by just hosting movie nights, but they weren’t very well attended. We tried hands-on projects instead, and that started to become popular, so that’s the direction we’re going to go in. We really just started it as a way to try to get dads more involved, but in the meantime we also let everyone know what Chautauqua Opportunities has to offer them, should they ever need any services from us. It’s really a win-win for everyone.

“We’re just trying to get guys involved, because they tend to get overlooked in the early education of a child,” continued Tobio. “That’s not to say we would turn away a grandmother or mother that wanted to stop in, but we certainly want to put the spotlight on the guys.”

As mentioned, participants assembled and painted birdhouses with their children. The event is completely free of charge for participants, and guests have the convenience of staying for all or just part of the event.

The event took place at the Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys and Girls Club, who partners with Chautauqua Opportunities to make Dedicated Dads possible.

“We have an agreement,” said Tobio. “They’ve been a great partner in this whole thing.”

Tobio said that the program averages about 12 father-son combinations per event, but hopes that more and more fathers capitalize on the event once word spreads more.

“We have a grandfather-grandson combination that comes every month,” said Beth Lanphere, also with Chautauqua Opportunities. “They have a really great time every month, and we’d love to see more (duos) come enjoy the event every month.”

And all of the pairs that attended on Thursday really enjoyed building a birdhouse.

“It creates a project for you to do with your child,” said Joe Pollino, who attended with his 5-year-old son Zaidan. “It was really great over the winter when you can’t really play outdoors.”

Zaidan didn’t want to talk to a stranger, however it was evident that he was enjoying himself as he painted his birdhouse a bright shade of red.

Meanwhile, 10-year-old Ian Winkler and his grandfather Paul Pearson were also assembling a birdhouse.

“I’m painting mine camouflage so it can hide in the tree,” said Winkler. “We have a crabapple tree in the backyard and I’m going to put it in there.”

“This is a really great even to be able to come to, because it gives me an opportunity to spend some time with Ian,” said Pearson. “I have 10 grandkids, so finding time for everyone is hard. This gives me an opportunity to spend time with him one-on-one.”

Chautauqua Opportunities holds Dedicated Dads at the Boys and Girls Club on the first Thursday of every month from 6:30-8 p.m., and at the Dunkirk Connections North on the third Thursday of every month from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

For more information, call Chautauqua Opportunities at 661-9430.