May 29, 2024

Father Center Honors “Platinum Dads” at Annual Family Fun Day Celebration

By Anne Levin

Back in 1859, the Union Industrial Home for Children was founded in Trenton. What was originally an orphanage is today an organization devoted to helping men gain and meet the responsibilities of fatherhood.

The Father Center of New Jersey’s free programs serve some 1,800 fathers a year. Offices in Trenton and Burlington have recently been joined by a location in Camden, and plans are to expand further across New Jersey.

In the meantime, a Father’s Day-focused party is in the works. On Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Father Center hosts Father Family Fun Day and the 19th annual Platinum Dads Awards, honoring several notable fathers, at We Make, 109 Route 31 north in Pennington. In addition to the ceremony, there will be a moon bounce, refreshments, games, dancing, and family-friendly activities.

“I am so honored to be selected as a Platinum Dad,” said Mercer County Executive Dan Benson, who is among the 10 honorees. “I want to thank The Father Center for this recognition, and for all the incredible work they do to support dads throughout Mercer County. Being a dad is one of the greatest joys imaginable, and as county executive, I am always eager for opportunities to help parents here in Mercer to succeed.”

Bryan Evans, chief executive officer of The Father Center, said last week that job training is a key focus of the organization. Men who are unemployed and underemployed are given the job training necessary to acquire essential workplace skills.

“We really try to make sure men are employed,” he said. “We have a lot of workforce development initiatives, OSHA training, forklift certifications, and those types of things. We recently started a partnership with New Jersey Manufacturers to allow men to become welders.”

Providing emotional support is another goal. Programs, which are free, include career counseling, computer literacy training, parenting education, and health and trauma support. Anger management classes are offered in a small group format. Bridges2Success, Dress2Impress, and sessions on computer literacy, health relationships, and basic life support/first aid are among the additional programs.

In addition to Benson, this year’s Platinum Dads are Reggie Coleman, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County; Cory Delgado, director of school counseling and student wellness with the Montgomery Township School District; Kareem Edwards, general manager at Comfort Inn & Suites Newark Liberty International Airport; Steven Anthony King of Cliffside Park, author of the bestselling book It’s Really Good to See You; Jim Patnick of Pennington; Anthony Russ Jr. of Lawrenceville; Donta Sanders of Trenton, lead HVAC technician for Chamberlain University in North Brunswick; and George Sowa, CEO of Greater Trenton. Samuel Fulwood of Trenton, is this year’s recipient of the Robert E. Alston Legacy of Fatherhood Award.

“Every year, The Father Center honors men who have made a significant impact on their communities,” said Evans. “We celebrate them. At the same time, the event is a time for families to come together. It’s an inspiring day.”

Tickets are $5 for children aged 6-17, $10 for adults, and free for children 5 and under. Scholarships are available. Visit for more information.