Well-known at the Gerry Clubhouse, Michael Humphreys has three sons in the program: Elijah, age 12; Jacob, age 11; Aaron, age 6; 4-year-old Matthew will be joining soon.
Michael learned about fatherhood from his own father, Lucien, who at 71, still lives on the same block in the Bronx where Michael grew up. “My father was a very active parent. There were a lot of men that weren’t there for their kids, a lot of kids without someone at home to talk to them after school if they got in trouble or if they did something good. My dad was a father figure in the flesh,” says Michael.
Lucien provided a responsible male role model and steered Michael and his friends away from bad influences.
“He was an uncle to the kids the community and I’ve continued the tradition,” exclaims Michael, explaining the pride he and his dad take in fatherhood.
At the Gerry Clubhouse, Michael’s choice to be a present father is noticed. He’s an inspiration, a role model, even if he doesn’t see himself that way. “I think that it’s part of a stereotype – yes, there are black men that are not taking care of their kids, but there are also black men that are proudly showing up to be good fathers. I’m not the only one – when we see each other picking up our kids or dropping them off on the way to work, we give the head nod, the finger point, we recognize each other being there.”
Michael points out that positive male role models often go overlooked. “What’s exciting about my trousers and my button-down shirt? It’s not very [exciting]. From the perspective of a boy, a young man, how can we compete against the flashy bad boys with their guns, women, and lifestyle?”
If you’re Michael Humphreys, you send them to BCNY. “BCNY plays the role my dad did.”
For the Humphreys, BCNY is a special place where boys can learn to be men while experiencing new things. For all of us at BCNY, Michael remains an inspiration, an tribute to fatherhood, and we’re proud to have him in our community.