First Ever Fatherhood Summit

On Friday, March 8, the Bastrop County Fatherhood Coalition hosted its first Fatherhood Flame Summit at the Bastrop Christian Outreach Center under the leadership of the Fatherhood Program Coordinator, Martin Gonzales. The event brought the community together to celebrate, uplift, and support dads. “The event was a great success,” Martin shared. “Dads and father figures feel a lot of pressure as their head of household, and many didn’t have great role models to demonstrate how to lead their family. The Fatherhood Coalition aims to break that cycle and bring these guys together to grow.”

After introductions by executive director for Bastrop County Cares, Norma Mercado and superintendent for Bastrop Independent School District, Barry Edwards, the audience was introduced to a smiling, unassuming Jesse Medina. He took to the stage as the morning keynote speaker, and once up there, he told the audience he had to take off his jacket. In that moment, Medina transformed himself into an animated storyteller, sharing his shocking personal anecdotes, and magically turning them into humor. The audience was enthralled as Medina’s words encapsulated the day’s message: break the cycle of negative generations of fatherhood and learn to be good fathers.

During lunch, attendees had a chance to network and develop new friendships before going back in for the afternoon keynote speaker, Derrick David Bryant. Bryant also took off his jacket to add a high level of physical energy to his talk. He took turns pacing the stage and then running down the steps to talk to someone in the audience. Bryant shared sobering statistics about fatherhood, data about families without fathers, and what the future looked like for children who don’t have a father in their household. He shared this information to show a way forward. The goal: let’s learn from our missteps.

Both men offered powerful messages about fatherhood, while acknowledging how challenging parenthood is, and the agenda held a list of more fathers and father figures who continued to add depth and knowledge to the message. Some talked about their lives while others brought more research and data. It was all top-notch work.

In addition to the enriching talks, vendors brought a variety of information on transportation, health insurance, childcare, and educational opportunities to further enhance the summit experience and empower attendees with valuable resources to support their journey in fatherhood.

It was truly an incredible event. Bastrop County Cares and the Fatherhood Collaborative will remain faithful to the cause of responsible fatherhood, empowering fathers, and strengthening families across the region.

About the Presenters:

Jesse Medina was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He attended high school at LBJ and walked on at the University of Texas in 1985. He has been married for 19 years and he and his wife have four children. He is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, set free and delivered by the mercy and grace of God. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

Derrick “David” Bryant has been married to his wife, Mary, for 24 years and is the proud father of a 15-year-old daughter. David has over 20 years’ experience in serving fathers, families, and the community in both direct service and in community leadership roles. He currently works with the Texas DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) where he serves as Special Projects Manager.