Lehigh Valley

Group to Oprah: help us create a fatherhood initiative

Group to Oprah: Help us create a fatherhood initiative

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Growing up without a dad is an issue that affects thousands of young people around the country, including the Lehigh Valley.

Following in the footsteps of Oprah Winfrey, the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley has plans in the works to start a 'Father Initiative', and part of the plan is to bring Oprah to our area.

Inside a conference room at Northampton Community College, the campaign to kick off the 'Fatherhood Initiative' for the Lehigh Valley started last Thursday.

The initative is being led by Lorna Velazquez, director of the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, with the help of student-turned-activist Angel Diaz.

"The main goal would be the awareness and to unite our community and then to ultimately break cycles of poverty by having males that are strong that know how to be present," said Velazquez.

Velazquez says she was inspired after watching a series of "Oprah's Life Class" episodes, titled 'Fatherless Sons' and 'Daddyless Daughters', where experts spoke to audience members about the impact of growing up without a father figure.

"I lived with fatherlessness but I never realized all of the various factors until I watched Oprah Winfrey's life class," said Velazquez.

The plan is to begin a community wide initiative addressing the issue of fatherless youth in the Lehigh Valley and an even bigger goal is to get Oprah herself to host a conference in our area.

It's something that may sound out-of-reach, but not for Diaz, a senior at Northampton Community College.

"She (Velazquez) told me the idea and I was sold. I love thinking big picture so I was like 'that is not crazy, that is so possible'," said Diaz.

A possibility that will need plenty of time, planning and support in order to grow and even without Oprah, Velazquez says just starting the initiative could change lives.

"If we could do any of that here, that within itself would be an accomplishment," she said.


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