South Charlotte

Group proving members are Men of Honor

Early on Friday mornings, more than 30 men take over the back room of Big View Diner on the corner of Ardrey Kell and N.C. 521.

They share stories, trials and victories over eggs and coffee. They lend support and guidance to one another. Overall, they talk about what it means to be "Men of Honor" - the group's unofficial title.

It all started with Dr. Robert Dodd, 56, a resident of Indian Land and the clinical psychologist at Rodgers Christian Counseling. Dodd has 22 years experience as a pastor and many years of counseling experience. Dodd started working at the center after moving from Nashville to Charlotte in 2004 and is now the clinical director.

"It was soon apparent to me that God was calling me to meet with men outside of work for support," Dodd said. In October 2009, he began meeting with a couple men Friday mornings.

"Those first two men hounded me to start the group," Dodd said. "These were men with unique issues that just wanted a time they could be held accountable, encouraged and have friendship."

The group has grown substantially through word of mouth.

"The men range in age from early 20 to 70," Dodd said. "They are from all walks of life, from day-laborers to CEOs."

"For about an hour-and-a-half, men just share where they're at, their struggles and a lot of jokes."

A main topic of discussion is what it means to have a healthy relationship with wives and children. According to Dodd, many men didn't have that model growing up.

Dodd grew up in Florida with the kind of father most men dream about: a pastor, husband and great dad.

"I had a dad that was an incredible role model," Dodd said. "I was very, very blessed."

Dodd said he believes men really want to do the right thing. "It's just that they start to make bad choices and go down the wrong path and they don't know what to do or how to get out of it. A lot try to figure it out all alone," he said.

The Men of Honor group has seen great things, said Dodd. Marriages have been saved, relationships have been mended, jobs have been found and strong friendships have formed.

The group has two rules: Buy your own breakfast, and what's said in the group stays in the group.

To join, Dodd asks to meet potential members one-on-one first to make sure they are open, honest and trustworthy. The group emphasizes being nonjudgmental and open to new members.

While they do sometimes pray or read something from the Bible, the group is not restricted to Christians. Apart from support and discussion, the group also finds ways to give back to the community by volunteering at inner-city ministries and supporting needy families during the Christmas season.