The Charlotte Housing Authority celebrated the role of fathers in strong families Thursday in a free “family reunion” style event on the lawn of the Southside Homes community that drew an appearance from Carolina Panthers star Thomas Davis.
Chief Executive Officer Fulton Meachem Jr. said the goal was to not only encourage fathers and male mentors to take leadership roles and be present, but also to bring the community together.
He said he encourages anyone to step into the role of a father figure, even if not biologically related.
“All of us have probably had someone in our lives – a teacher, a pastor, someone to encourage them. So, what we’re doing is looking to find male mentors anywhere we can get them.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Davis signed dozens of autographs before sharing his experience growing up without a father active in his life.
He encouraged fathers to support their children through face to face interaction, stressing that money isn’t the only form of support.
“You would be surprised by how big of a difference you can make in your kid’s life by just showing up and spending time with them,” Davis told the crowd.
The Panther said he grew up in Shellman, Georgia, where he was raised by his mother, having little to no interaction with his father.
He transitioned the story of his past to a story of his current situation: married with children of his own.
“I knew that someday when I grew up, I wanted to have kids,” Davis said.
“But at the same time, I knew that I wanted to provide my kids with everything that I was searching for as a young kid.”
Davis said that even while traveling with the football team, he tries to spend time with his children.
“Even though with my job, we have to spend a lot of time learning plays, practicing and flying to different cities, I make sure to show my kids the importance of quality time,” Davis said.
“Regardless of what I have going on, I’m never too busy or there’s never anything too important for me to spend time with them.”