The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland held its annual Father Engagement Pancake Breakfast on December 14th and it was a major success. Fathers and father figures poured into CEOGC’s Louis Stokes Head Start center fully expecting the mesmerizing smell of hickory-smoked bacon and sweet maple syrup; they were not disappointed.
“We haven’t had the chance to tally up numbers yet, but from the looks of it, it seems that today was the best turnout we’ve had in years,” said Steven Rhodes, Director of Father Engagement at CEOGC. “The hope is to continue to grow from here. Eventually, I want to have 400 to 500 fathers in attendance.”
The Pancake Breakfast was started in 1998 by Merlin Hayes, who worked as a cook for CEOGC for 11 years, as a way to encourage fathers to become active in their children’s lives. Hayes and four other male co-workers saw a need for male involvement, so they created a men’s group called, M.A.L.E (Men Approaching Lifetime Empowerment.) The breakfast was created from this initiative and at its inaugural event at CEOGC’s Louis Stokes Head Start center, over 100 men attended. Mr. Hayes passed away in 2007 and the breakfast was officially renamed the Merlin L. Hayes, Sr. Annual Father Engagement Pancake Breakfast in his honor.