JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ronald Clark, 31, is a barber and the proud father of four children. But Clark is concerned about his relationship with one of the children from a previous relationship.
"I feel there's a void because I have three in the house with me," said Clark, "and one not in the house with me and therefore, there's a lot of time lost."
Clark grew up in a single parent household and knows what it means to have a father MIA, missing in action.
"I only had my Mom and she was terrific," he said, "There were times I wish I had my father."
Clark is now lending his voice to the Save Our Sons' newest initiative: absentee fathers.
"I feel a father is needed in the household, a father is needed in his son's life," her said.
Dr. John Guns, national director of Save Our Sons, said he was recently watching a young black man on trial, sitting next to his mother, and notice something is wrong with the picture.
"Where is the father? " said Guns, "That is the question that brings us together at the table."
Guns said in his years as pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist, he has conducted funerals for at least six young black men who died too early, and their father was missing from their lives.
He said it is time to take the Save our Sons initiative to the next level, fathers calling fathers.
"It is calling together men who are committed to their families; it is also calling men who are struggling with that relationship of being a father," said Guns.
Save Our Sons Vice Chair Ken Jefferson pointed out Jacksonville's homicide rate and said many are are young black men. Jefferson said the need is urgent for fathers.
"A lot of these crimes involve fatherless young men," said Jefferson, "This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, this is a person or people issue and it affects all areas of our community."
Saturday, September 14, the Save Our Sons organization is holding its summit at Ribault High School to reach absentee fathers.
"It is really about real talk; it is about men coming together to work through their issues," said John Guns.
The summit will include workshops on how to handle conflict resolution, respecting authority and building trust with law enforcement.
"We cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic right now," said Jefferson.
Clark said he will do his part to encourage fathers to attend the Save Our Sons summit "Calling all Fathers."
"I see the urgency for it in the community for a lot of fathers out here that are not in their kids lives," said Clark.
The doors open at 8 a.m. That's when registration begins or you can register online. Just click on the link below.
First Coast News