Nets Dads Walk Kids to School in Brooklyn

Brooklyn resident Matthew Smith's two young sons, James and Michael, attend after-school programs at the Ingersoll Community Center a few blocks from their apartment. He's tried to assist however he can, even at events that span age groups outside the boys' own. Thursday, University Settlement, which runs the Brooklyn location, recognized Smith's efforts with the "Making a Difference" Award.

"My kids both go to the after-school center there, and I just like to stay involved with everything that supports the community and the children of the community," Smith said. "So whenever they do something, all they've gotta do is ask, and I try to do provide whatever I can."

The area resident was one of many dads to participate in "Dads Take Your Child to School," an event organized by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s (DYCD) Fatherhood Initiative. Brooklyn Nets players Deron Williams, Jerry Stackhouse and Keith Bogans joined CEO Brett Yormark at Ingersoll for a breakfast gathering at Ingersoll. Afterward, 300 students and their parents or guardians walked to Charles A. Dorsey Public School 67 for an assembly.

Yormark and Williams each spoke about being raised in single parent households, and how that impacted their own decisions as parents. Williams said he often volunteers to ferry his kids to and from school, because during basketball season, it can be the only time he gets with them. Yormark makes certain to speak with his two children first thing in the morning and last thing before bedtime.

"This hits close to home because I have four kids, and three of them are in school," said Williams, adding the fourth is in preschool. "This is something I do frequently, and I think it's really special to promote dads taking their kids to school, because I think those times are special."

After short speeches from Yormark, NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, DYCD Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav and NYC Housing Authority Chairperson John Rhea, Williams' "Point of Hope" Foundation provided backpacks filled with school supplies to all students in attendance.

The younger of Eric Manson's two sons, Naien, was excited to pick up his new bag, stuffing his homework inside right away. The elder Manson, a P.S. 67 graduate and youth league basketball coach at both the school and Ingersoll, works hard to instill a sense of community ownership in Naien and older brother Ramel Ingram.

"Oh, it's a beautiful thing that they came back to the community, gave back to the community, showed some support to the community and give these kids a big hit of hope by just doing service and giving back," Manson said. "It's a great stimulant for the community. This is what we need down here. Our kids need to see stuff like this so it can give them some hope and convince them that there is a better way, that they too can be successful and one day come back and give back to the community that they serve. If you ever have the opportunity to come back later in life and give back something, it makes a world of difference."

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