With Father’s Day just around the corner, we want to honor all the dads and dad-like figures who have had a positive impact on the lives of their children. Fathers, like mothers, play a significant role in their children’s overall development and largely determine the kind of people they become.

When children have strong, supportive and affectionate fathers, they are much more likely to be kind to others, possess self-confidence and have an overall sense of well-being. When fathers treat others with respect, their children mimic these respectful behaviors.

Boys learn how to treat women from how they see their fathers treat their mothers, and girls learn how to relate to men based on the relationship they have with their fathers. Put simply, most every man can father a child, but it takes being a father to develop healthy and well-adjusted children.

There are many examples of local men who exemplify these very best qualities of fatherhood. Many of them hold leadership positions within our community. They run companies, hold down public sector jobs, serve on various boards and participate in civic organizations. Most of them are leading lives of quiet “inspiration” as they go about their daily lives providing for their families, coaching and mentoring youth, attending church and supporting local charitable organizations.

One of those local charities is an organization I am privileged to lead, Women’s Services. We hold our charity golf tournament every year at this time at The Country Club of Meadville and without fail, scores of male role models come out and support our event. I look forward to seeing them every year as they give me hope for a brighter, more peaceful future.

You see, in our line of business, we see the worst elements of humanity, and it’s easy for us to become discouraged. Thus, when we get to participate in an event full of men — and women — who support our efforts and believe in our vision for violence-free communities, we become encouraged and rejuvenated.

Engaging men in our mission to provide hope and resources to survivors of domestic and sexual violence makes realizing our vision possible. Also, when individuals and companies sponsor our event, it communicates to the wider community that our friends and neighbors believe in our efforts to create a less violent, more supportive environment for our children and youth. We are grateful for this support and reap the blessings from this acknowledgement daily.

One of our supporters, Jason Nesbitt, was recently given the annual Excellence in Male Leadership award by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV). Representing the western region of Pennsylvania, Jason will be formally recognized at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game on June 21. Jason will be awarded on-field prior to the game with a custom jersey, and he will get to throw out the first pitch! Suite tickets will be awarded to his family and friends so they can watch him receive the award in person.

Jason is very deserving of this award, as he has distinguished himself professionally in the human services sector and is currently serving as the executive director for the Center for Family Services. Additionally, Jason serves on the Crawford County System of Care Leadership Team, the Suicide Prevention Task Force, the Crawford County Community Council, the Overdose Prevention Coalition and the Human Trafficking Task Force.

He is honest and sincere in all that he does while inspiring others to do their very best. He is always willing to lend a hand and guide others in projects and tasks; his gentleness, knowledge and understanding shine through in his work with others.

Perhaps his greatest achievement is the legacy he and his wife are creating with their own children. Fathers, like mothers, help their children learn character traits that contribute to healthy relationships and safe neighborhoods. Having an engaged and nurturing father in the lives of children cannot be overstated.

Jason demonstrates the best kind of male leadership in the ways that he cares for his family, both in public and behind closed doors. It should come as no surprise then that Jason has embraced the “Engaging Men” campaign championed by PCADV. This campaign is designed to provide a much-needed male presence within the movement to end gender-based violence. Interested persons can learn more about this campaign at pcadv.org/get-involved/engaging-men.

If Jason’s example reminds you of your father or other men in your life, I urge you to express your appreciation to them this Father’s Day.

Badly behaving men tend to give all men a bad reputation. We need to remember that most men are deserving of our praise and admiration. I wish my own father was still alive so I could tell him one more time how much I appreciated his presence in my life.

Bruce Harlan is executive director of Meadville-based Women’s Services Inc. Women’s Services has been providing hope and resources to victims of violence and advocating to end it since 1977. For more information, visit womensservicesinc.org.

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