Paul Schmidt

Paul Schmidt

By Paul Schmidt

It started with a simple ask, a bonfire like no other. Little did Scott Roberts, Blue Valley Southwest Principal, know, he had the dads of the Blue Valley Southwest Father’s Club at “Fire.”

Let’s back up and set the stage.

In 2019, the Blue Valley Southwest PTO adopted the motto, “Five Schools, One Community.” The goal is to build and strengthen the community across all grade levels. This goal led to creating a community fest and Trunk or Treat at the high school on the eve of BVSW’s homecoming football game.

In years past, on the eve of homecoming, the students would plan the bonfire, but it wasn’t quite as epic and memorable as Roberts wanted, so he sent out a call to the Father’s Club.

Blue Valley Southwest Bonfire Blue Valley Southwest Bonfire

A bonfire for the ages.

So, the Principal wants a bonfire for the ages. Who do you call to tackle this task? A Dad. No! You need multiple dads. Ask any dad if they love to burn things. Of course, almost as much as grilling and their kids. The Blue Valley Southwest Father’s Club stepped up to make this annual tradition better.

After a year off, the Father’s Club sent out the call to the dads for anything that would burn and burn fast. We willingly gathered wood, built our burn pile, gathered torches and fuels, and lit up the night sky.

Blue Valley Southwest Bonfire Blue Valley Southwest Bonfire

It is a simple ask with a big impact.

We get to play a part in making HOCO memorable for our kids, strengthening our community, and building connections.

By making ourselves available, these simple asks allow the dads to connect with the students and staff, leading to more significant opportunities to leave a lasting impact.

P.S. Don’t tell Principal Roberts next year’s bonfire will be EPIC as in Texas A&M epic!

Blue Valley Southwest Bonfire Blue Valley Southwest Bonfire

Olathe East LogoBy Ryan Kapple, Chapter Chair at Olathe East

Everyone wants to be a hero. Then reality sets in and you realize you’re just a dad wearing khakis and a polo on Zoom meetings all day.

Not on this day!

We had 20 Dad HEROES show up at Olathe East (OE) to hand out 800 chicken biscuits. It was a cold, rainy and dark day, but each dad became a hero and brightened the day of hundreds of students at OE. To capture this great moment, we asked Coach Eric Harrington, head of the OE Video Class to shoot and edit a video.

Check out his awesome video.

What is the Impact?

2021 Olathe East Chicken and BiscuitWe can’t be certain of the real impact that the presence of the Father’s Club had at Olathe East. But for multiple days, there had been fights breaking out… but not on that day. I’d like to think starting the day off with dads showing up and sharing some love in the form of a chicken biscuit, a dad joke and a smile, let kids know that life is, in the words of Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Prettay, Prettay, Prettay Good.”

Dads went to First Watch after the event and there was a buzz around the table. We all felt like we had helped to make a difference in the lives of students at OE, and together, we were encouraging each other to be the best version of our “Dad-self.”

2021 Olathe East Chicken and Biscuit 2021 Olathe East Chicken and Biscuit

 

By Tom Herzog, Board Member

Mental illness becomes a fatal illness when it leads to someone taking their own life.

It's ok not to be ok.September was Suicide Prevention Month, an intentional time for us to address the stigma keeping people from getting help and how can we work together to help one another. These past 18 months we’ve become even more aware to the challenges AND opportunities before us to help one another. There are many good things happening to provide training and awareness, but one is essential always.

Conversation is key.

Having honest and open dialogue is the best way to combat any stigma or uncertainty that often still linger around mental health and suicide. To ensure those in our lives know, ‘It’s ok not be ok.’ We must provide the space and an open door to let others know: You Matter – Right Here – Right Now.

Most important, this is true for us as well, that asking for help is just as essential as offering help. This may be a tougher topic for adults as kids continue to show their willingness to navigate conversations that stigma kept older generations from having.

There has also been a false perception that talking openly about depression and suicide might lead to suicidal behavior – as if saying the words might plant a seed in someone’s mind. This is not the case. In fact, directly talking about it is the best response. Direct questions demand direct answers. This one of the thing Mental Health First Aid training teaches.

While Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is over it does not mean the conversations, education and awareness should cease. Mental health should be treated the same way as physical health – when something is wrong, listen to your mind and body, and seek professional help if necessary.

No one is immune to mental health challenges; reach out to others, ask for help when you need it and give a little grace when working through difficult times. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or reach out to a local mental health professional.

Be the DifferenceMental Health and Wellness is one of our lanes here at The Father’s Club, an opportunity for us to collaborate to ensure awareness, training, and ways to help one another.

Looking for training or ways to help?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certification teaches individuals how to offer support to someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use related crisis. Similar to First Aid and CPR trainings, MHFA focuses on increasing emergency preparedness for individuals and organizations alike. Visit MHFA to find an on-site or virtual class. Father’s Club sponsors training sessions as well, let us know if you’re interested.

Resources:

Johnson County Mental Health Center: https://www.jocogov.org/dept/mental-health/home#Resources

Mental Health First Aid: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

Suicide Prevention: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

The Power of Chicken and BiscuitIt’s awkward, for both of us. A bunch of Dads standing at all entrances of the school clumsily offering a chicken biscuit and a high five to start the day. Glances of what this is all about are frequent, then smiles and a ‘thank you’ letting us each know this is good.

In a time when connection is abundant, we find ourselves fighting to actually realize it.

There’s no agenda with this group, just a bunch of Dads answering a call within that we must do and be better. It’s funny, the fear that works its way in when trying to connect with a generation we’re far removed from – I’m certain it’s a feeling felt at home for many as well.

I had many reasons not to go, even pulling into the parking lot. I debated if I really need to be here, surely they’ve got this covered. This is the challenge. Too often, we assume someone else has got it when each of us plays an essential role in making it happen.

The Power of Chicken and BiscuitI held that chicken biscuit in my hand nervously trying to figure out how I was going to give this thing away, the burden makes it feel like a hundred pounds. ‘Would you like a chicken biscuit?’ I quietly offered. Seriously, I think a bead of sweat fell from my forehead.

‘That would be awesome!’ replied the student, as we did a high five, I felt like I just accomplished something amazing in my life.

That’s the thing with intent. We may not know how to offer it, how to show we care, to be there in that moment… but however it’s expressed it will find a way to let that person know you’re trying.

It was a flashback for me… I watched many kids walk into school this morning, their faces expressing the narratives of their story – some good, others in a fight to find a path forward. Eye contact is a direct connection into the human spirit, I think it’s why we avoid it, hard to mask as honesty resonates here – I read chapters this morning, it reminded me why this is so important!

The Power of Chicken and Biscuit The Power of Chicken and Biscuit

Our schools are challenged, it’s not just their challenge, it belongs to all of us.

The Power of Chicken and BiscuitIn one way this is what today was all about, Dads saying with word and deed that regardless of where you’re at, what’s going on, we are here – you matter!

Why Dads? Because it’s necessary that we’re intentional in our efforts. Each of us, as a community, together, to make a difference – however, wherever and whenever we can!

Later my son came by, he got the last biscuit our group had. I don’t know if he stopped because I was there or for the biscuit, but we made a connection. I was present. So were a group of Dads with me – letting him and everyone know we care and we’re here. This is the power of a Chicken Biscuit.

#strongertogether #righthererightnow

The Power of Chicken and Biscuit The Power of Chicken and Biscuit

Students and teachers… on behalf of Father’s Club, we’re so excited for another school year to start. Our hope is that you will be back to school stronger in 2021/22. Hear a few words from our Olathe East chapter chair, Ryan Kapple!