Photo by: Richard Anthony Photography
With the current climate of the world, Father’s Day seems more precious than in previous years. Fathers have always been essential in the lives of their families, but with the onset of the global pandemic, many learned that they were vital to the lives of others as well. These men sacrificed to remain committed to their careers and their call to action to serve others selflessly. It was an honor speaking to these essentially Dope Dads who courageously worked the Frontlines During COVID-19 while remaining front and center for their families.
Name: AJ Miller
Position: Certified Nursing Assistant, Regency At Canton
Best Dad Advice: There’s no rulebook or guidelines to fatherhood. Go with the low, take your time, and embrace the learning process. Understand that your children may all learn differently, take different approaches in how each are raised. Continue to better yourself along the way.
Proudest Dad Moment: Seeing my children do something. I can come off as non-emotional but when I witness them in something, like a school play or play in a game, I tear up watching my kids be excellent. Its beautiful. My son has a rare skin condition and I tell him all the time, he’s my hero.
What Kept Him Motivated during Covid-19: AJ lost his father-in-law, father, and grandfather this year. He expressed that after the passing of his grandfather whom he cared for, he was no longer scared of anything, and he just knew he had to keep going. “Life is short, I couldn’t stop living.” -AJ Miller
Name: Deron Smith
Position: Registered Nurse, Henry Ford Health System
Best Dad Advice: Always believe in God and always believe in yourself. I teach my children discipline, the importance of always making your bed.
Proudest Dad Moment: To practice safety and social distancing, Deron moved out of the family home to isolate himself during COVID-19. He emphasized that he and his children have a deal, that if they excel in complex math and comprehensive reading, he will allow them to start a business. His proudest moment was having his children call him to ask for tough math questions to stay sharp and show their progress toward of achieving their goal of starting a business someday.
What Kept Him Motivated during Covid-19: Deron says that COVID-19 made him realize “how much I had to lose —nobody left a legacy for me, and as a black father, everything is about legacy.” His business “Nspire Legacy”, an initiative created to highlight the importance of leaving a legacy for his children. Deron prides himself on being a black father. “We don’t live just to die one day, but we will one day die in order to live through legacy.”- Deron Smith
Name: Chris Whitehorn
Position: Transportation Equipment Operator, DDOT
Best Dad Advice: Be there for your kids and teach them.
Proudest Dad Moment: Watching them smile and keep them on the right track.
What Kept Him Motivated during Covid-19: Chris says that seeing his children, Jayden and Amari, wait at the door to ask him about his day is what motivated him to keep being safe.
Name: Jeffrey Baker
Position: Dialysis Assistant
Best Dad Advice: Support your child 115% in whatever they do. Do not be afraid to be that dad that gets excited for everything their child does.
Proudest Dad Moment: When my daughter was born. In the moment I held her, I knew nothing was going to stop me from providing for her and trying my best to keep her out of harms way.
What Kept Him Motivated during Covid-19: Jeffrey says the excitement in his baby’s face whenever he walked through the door. He was motivated by the fact that he still had a job when so many others were laid off and furloughed. “My Main Motivation was to provide for my family and keep them safe” – Jeffrey Baker
Name: Randon Jenkins
Position: Nurse Practitioner, PHD in nursing with specialty in Gerontology, teacher at Oakland University
Best Dad Advice: Listen to your children. I have a 13 year old daughter, Hannah, and at that age they don’t always want to talk, it is important to listen to their needs and desires and let them know you understand so that it remains easy for them to share things with you.
Proudest Dad Moment: In terms of social justice, she sticks to her guns. Although she opted not to go to the protest to maintain social distancing during COVID-19, she made signs for the protestors.
What Kept Him Motivated during Covid-19: Randon explained how a vast majority of mental healthcare workers were furloughed as a result of the Pandemic, and as a result he acquired many mental health patients under his care. His motivation was to help others mentally. Accentuating the need to be both a health care provider and a friend to his patience during this time when anxiety was understandably heightened. “You’re never going to be perfect but as long as you show up, they’ll appreciate it.”- Randon Jenkins