The answer determines whether Father’s Day is truly special or just another Sunday in June.
U.S. Navy officer, Kireff Gordon recently returned home to Virginia from Iraq, just in time to spend Father’s Day with his two daughters.
Gordon said he has not been able to spend the time that he would like with his girls since he enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I have been on active duty, being stationed everywhere from Germany to Iraq. Now that I have served my time within the past four years, I can now be the father that I would like to be to my kids,” said Gordon. “Hopefully I won’t have to miss anymore holidays with my family,” he said.
But not all families will be as blessed as the Gordons this Father’s Day.
Some fathers who are incarcerated will not have any special breaks because it is Father’s Day.
According to the National Center on Fathers and Families, over the last 10 years some prisons have developed family and children’s extended visits, giving children longer and more normal contact time with their fathers in prison. But these opportunities are few and far between, and are only offered to a small number of prisoners.
An officer at the Baltimore City Correctional Center, said that Father’s Day is not recognized as a legal holiday. It’s just another day. “Visiting hours are the same, no exceptions or extended hours,” she said.
An officer at the Sixth District Police Precinct in Northeast Washington, said missing Father’s Day is a choice that criminals make when they commit crimes. “Inmates gave up those special privileges,” said the officer.
Keshia Thomas, 24, a mother of two living in Maryland said that as much as some children want to celebrate this day with their dads, there are children who don’t. And there are fathers who don’t want their children to see them behind bars.
“My children’s father is currently serving a five-year sentence in the Maryland Correctional facility in Jessup. As much as he adores his kids, he doesn’t want them to ever see him locked-up,” she said.
Incarcerated fathers find it hard to maintain relationships with their children. Organizations such as the National Fatherhood Initiative Organization in Gaithersburg, Md., has developed a program called Inside-Out Dad, which helps incarcerated fathers reach out to their children. “The organization delivers programs to prisons that are taking the initiative to help incarcerated fathers to be fathers,” said Tamika Youngsavage, representative for the National Fatherhood Initiative Organization.
According to Youngsavage, for Father’s Day the organization has another task at hand: helping homeless fathers feel appreciated.
“On Sunday, the National Fatherhood Initiative Organization will be handing out Golden Dad Bags especially to homeless fathers at Union Station in D.C.,” said Youngsavage. She said that the Golden Dad bags are filled with goodies, pamphlets and brochures containing useful information for fathers. In addition to helping to keep fathers united with their families, the National Center for Fathering provides research-based training, practical tips and resources to help men who are not a part of their children’s lives to become the involved fathers, grandfathers, and father figures their children need.
Father’s Day also can be hard for men in nursing homes. Family members sometimes forget about their fathers and grandfathers who have been placed in these homes away from loved ones.
Evette Wilkens, a homecare nurse knows that nurses are not supposed to get too attached to their patients. But to her there are exceptions.
Wilkens said that when holidays like Father’s Day come around she might bring one patient a card, one a piece of candy and another one a slice of cake just to brighten their day because she believes that it is part of her job to emotionally care for her patients. “Some of my patients are just the sweetest people I have met in my life,” she said.
Wilfred Singh, 78, lived in nursing homes and then at Grant Park Care Center in Northeast, Washington. He now lives in the comfort of his own home with a homecare nurse.
Singh said he met people in nursing homes who never really cared for family or friends to call or visit. “But at this last stage in my life, family is very important to me,” he said. Singh is also thankful for his family; five daughters, two sons, 10 grandchildren and plenty of great-grand children who visit him every Father’s Day.