DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There is a new mission in 2018 for a grassroots community effort, matching young men with mentors in Dallas.
"It's just unlocked something in me that I'm trying to unlock in other men," said organizer Rev. Donald Parish, Jr. "Let's just get involved!"
Last year, Rev. Parish's call for "stand-in dads" at a Dade Middle School breakfast went viral. Organizers feared boys would be left without a mentor, so they put out a call on social media asking for 50 men. About 600 showed up with some driving to South Dallas from as far away as Plano and Waco.
Now, he's looking to put that goodwill to work at Carter High School in south Oak Cliff.
"Every time I see some of our young men get in trouble, it hurts my heart," said Rev. Parish. "Because I feel like I could have done something, or should have done something to stop that."
Supporters said that the data is overwhelming: Dads make a difference.
"Some of the rates are staggering... just having a father in the household, not even a good father, just having a male presence, and the rate of college graduation, high school graduation, all of that just goes up exponentially," said Rev. Parish. "That teaches me that we just need to be involved. We need to be accountable and if a young man has a father who is not accountable, then we can step in and do our part."
Justise Wade-Harris, a Carter junior, called the effort "deep." He says his father is in his life; he's just not in North Texas. "Having a male figure in my life that I'm able to sit down and talk to face to face... that'll be good," he said.
Former Dallas Cowboys player Greg Ellis was among the pastors, police officers and educators answering the call.
"This is the way it should be," said Ellis, a first round draft pick for the Cowboys in 1998. "If you're blessed to be successful, you have an obligation to say 'look, I want to turn back around and help people who were in my situation,' because somebody helped us."
Rev. Parish is asking volunteer mentors to commit to having lunch with their student(s) twice a month. That's all that's needed, he said, to build those relationships and make a difference.
"This will help a lot," said Wade-Harris. "Keeping kids out the streets, keeping their heads in the books and keeping them in school."
The organization Rev. Parish founded, "A Steady Hand" is always recruiting mentors and men willing to give back.
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