Making Fatherhood Cool Again

By Benay Hicks, Communications Manager

March 16, 2021

As I spoke with Mr. Randy Trice, Executive Director of Fatherhood of Durham, he was on his way to pick up his youngest from school. Sounds of the carline – a rarity this year – filled the phone while we discussed being a dad in Durham and the role his nonprofit organization plays in the community.

Randy is a native of Durham and loves his city. He was raised alongside his sister by a single mom who maintained two jobs while studying to get her GED at Durham Tech. As a young witness to his mother’s accomplishments, Randy credits her with his personal strength and sense of responsibility to give back. Yet his childhood didn’t come without struggle and he was “influenced by the street life at an early age.” As a teen he attended Southern High, then Jordan, was routed over to Northern High, then worked his way through the GED program at Durham Tech.

When Randy first became a father at the age of 17, he went through an “awakening.” Though he didn’t have a father figure as a young child, he knew he needed to be there for his children. His children helped, and continue to help, ground him and keep him out of the streets. They motivate him to make a better life for himself and to build a better community. He does everything he can to be there for his children, whether it’s becoming an assistant coach of their sports team or coming up with fun activities to keep them engaged.

Fast forward to 2021: Mr. Trice is the father of seven kids, ages 7-32. He’s been an active citizen of Durham for years — you may know his name from Project BUILD, a gang-intervention program (Randy is a street outreach worker and gang interventionist), or the Durham Raiders, a football team he started for at-risk and gang-related young men. He describes himself as someone who is always “teaching, preaching, or coaching” and has been a mentor not only to his own children, but to anyone who needs one.

As a father who takes pride in fatherhood, he wants to enable others to feel the same way. Through Fatherhood of Durham, he is “trying to make fatherhood cool again.” The organization works to connect dads with other dads, provide resources, and offer opportunities for fathers to engage with their children.

“Fathers are struggling with a lack of knowledge of available resources. We have a bunch of organizations that support women, but as men, we need the same support. We’re not likely to seek that support, so through Fatherhood of Durham we show men that they don’t need to do crime to help their family. We provide a space to have conversations about fatherhood.” As Randy puts it, “we work hard to help men embrace the ‘gushy stuff’ and be okay with asking for help. It’s hard for a man to accept something from another man.”

The organization also hosts social activities and events for dads and their children, all expenses paid. He fondly remembered an organization-sponsored day out at Frankie’s, where fathers were able to interact with their kids and other dads without worrying about paying.

Mr. Trice is also a proud “community man” and wants to help fathers find their place as productive citizens within their neighborhoods. This includes identifying their skills and giving them opportunities to lead and give back; whether that’s by helping elderly residents fix up their homes or coaching a sports team. “Men are supposed to unify communities and make things whole, not wreak havoc,” he said.

The goals of Fatherhood of Durham are daunting – there is a lot of work that needs to be done – but Randy is optimistic about what the organization can do. He has his sights set on expanding their mentorship program, connecting with even more organizations than he already does (check out his website for a full list of collaborators), and connecting incarcerated fathers with their kids. “I’ve never seen the community in the state that it is right now, so my main goal is to help heal it.” Individuals and organizations who want to work with Fatherhood of Durham can visit their website at www.fatherhoodofdurham.org and submit the referral form at the bottom.

Our discussion ended as his daughter was ending her school day and heading over to his car. In true Book Harvest fashion, I asked what books they like to read together: “I always try to read with my seven year old. She likes to read anything – especially books with bright colors and fun pictures. She loves dinosaurs and astronomy. She just loves reading, it’s her favorite subject.”

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