Nickerson Gardens residents celebrate Father's Day in South LA at ‘Honor Thy Father' event

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Turhon Fowlkes, Sr. and his son Turhon, Jr. celebrate Father's Day at the Nickerson Garden's Sunday service for young dads.

For the first time, families from Nickerson Gardens housing development gave a formal ‘Thank You’ to the dads in the community at Sunday’s inaugural Father’s Day luncheon.

“In these communities, the fathers, they just feel nobody kind of care about them,” said Donny Joubert, who organized the event.

Joubert works for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, which manages the development. When you talk to guys at Nickerson Gardens, they refer to him as “Uncle Donny.” Joubert said he relates to the young fathers; he grew up there and is a dad himself.

“We got a bunch of young men that we know that is struggling, job to job, dealing with situations at home, but still trying to be there for their kid,” he said.

The event was called “Honor Thy Father.” About two-dozen dads were showered with ‘man bags,’ as one father called it. The gift bags were filled with some dad essentials like shiny silver watches, shaving kits, and of course white socks.

“Nobody never do nothing for the fathers, so this is a great,’ said Kevin White, a single father, whose sons are 17 and 18 years old.

White said he and his ex-girlfriend share custody of their teenage sons after they decided a long time ago that their relationship just wasn’t working. The towering man behind a dark pair of sunglasses twists a long silver chain hanging around his neck. White said that his 18-year old son starts his first year at Virginia Tech in August.

“That’s a long way when you already (are) a single father and you see your kid away somewhere where they don’t got no family,” White said.

Many of the fathers brought their small children to the event. It was easy to tell the father-son duos. Some of them wore the same brown sports jacket, or turquoise basketball shoes with matching laces, or the same plaid shirt.

But in Cornelius Wills’ case, his daughters wore bright green dresses, while he and his son wore matching shorts. Wills has three girls and one boy from ages one to nine.

Wills said being a father isn’t as hard as he thought it would be, and his mother has helped. 

“As long as you are there for them when they need you,” he said. “The dad is always out of the picture a lot. So as long as you can be there when they need you, that’s important.”

Joubert said he hopes to bring the Father’s Day event back to Nickerson Gardens next year and hopefully have more dads join them.

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