Beaufort News

New club encourages dads to be more hands-on

Mike Mashke, with All Pro Dads, talks with a few of the fathers gathered during a breakfast meeting at Coosa Elementary School Friday morning. The club encourages fathers to be more active and engaged in their kids' lives and has become very popular at the school.
Mike Mashke, with All Pro Dads, talks with a few of the fathers gathered during a breakfast meeting at Coosa Elementary School Friday morning. The club encourages fathers to be more active and engaged in their kids' lives and has become very popular at the school. Jonathan Dyer, The Beaufort Gazette

There's a new club at Coosa Elementary School, but it's not for kids.

It's for dads.

All Pro Dad aims to bring fathers and their children together with monthly breakfasts, a daily parenting-tips email and once-a-year outings to meet NFL players.

The group at Coosa was started by Mike Mashke, a lender at CBC National Bank. It's part of a national network of All Pro Dad chapters.

Mashke first heard of the group when he was the mascot for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he didn't have children at the time. When he saw a billboard for the program on a trip to Florida last year, he decided to join a local chapter. Finding none, he started his own.

"The cool thing about All Pro Dad, it's really a program geared toward fathers to give them encouragement and motivation to engage with their kids," said Mashke, who has three children.

The chapter started last spring; the first breakfast of the school year was Friday. The breakfasts have been attended regularly by 70 or more fathers and children. At each breakfast, dads announce why they are proud of their kids. They discuss topics such as overcoming fear or being humble.

"It's got me looking at my children to see what more can be done to get them involved in different things," said Tom Pendarvis, a local attorney and father of three.

At his children's request, he has been playing soccer with them more. That prompted his daughter Camille to join a soccer team, which is what Pendarvis cited when he had to say why he is proud of her.

"It helps the kids, too," he said. "It encourages them to be a little more open about what they would like to do with their dad."

Jim Roberts said the program has helped him maintain a positive attitude.

"Kids can push you to the limit sometimes. This makes you stop and think of the good things," Roberts said.

Roberts announced Friday that he was proud of his 8-year-old son Will for balancing commitments -- school, Cub Scouts, soccer and his relationship with his two younger sisters. Hearing that was his son's favorite part of the breakfast.

"I like listening to the daddies speak about their kids," he said before hugging his father.

Seth Scarpa, the owner of a Chik-fil-A franchise, said that's the most important part of the meetings.

"To stand in front of a crowd and kiss and hug your kids -- that's lacking in our culture," said Scarpa, who has a son in first grade.

Mashke said he hears often from fathers that the club is changing their lives.

"Some times dads feel like it's my job to work hard, make money and provide for the family. They think that's all they have to do, and it's up to mom to raise the kids," Mashke said. "This is teaching dads that that's not the way it's supposed to be. Dads are just as important in raising kids as the mom."

The group's next breakfast meeting will be at 7 a.m. Oct. 7 at Coosa Elementary. All Beaufort County fathers are invited to the free breakfast.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related links:

All Pro Dad website: http://www.allprodad.com

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