GREENVILLE - Gary Cloyd of the Castine Church of the Brethren was the keynote speaker at Monday night’s annual banquet of the Darke County Shelter From Violence, Inc.
He spoke on the Men’s Fraternity program through the Darke County Adult Probation Department following the meal at Montage in downtown Greenville, coordinated by Annie Sonner of the Darke County Shelter From Violence and its board of trustees.
Introducing Cloyd was John Tabler, an adult probation officer with the Darke County Common Pleas Court, who spoke some on the same subject at last year’s banquet.
Cloyd and Tabler had partnered to form Men’s Fraternity nearly two years ago.
“A mentor came to my office in December 2011, and asked why we were not doing a men’s fraternity at adult probation,” Tabler said. “In June 2012, we started this venture. Gary took it on with me in a partnership. It’s been great and successful. It’s wonderful to work with Gary….a great road to travel. He has done most of the facilitating with the partnership groups.”
“I’m going to talk about a subject I truly love,” said Cloyd. “I remember the words of Teddy Kennedy. Manhood is in a state of confusion not only here but in this country. In the summer of 2008, I attended a conference in Phoenix and the speaker talked about how to go about making a difference in families today. What program is really working, he mentioned, was men’s fraternity. Twelve months later, we did it at Castine and saw a tremendous thing happening. In December 2009 at another conference I saw the movie Courageous being shown and got the grandiose idea that we could do that. I rustled up 90 people from the church, and one member, Roger Shellabarger [a bailiff in Darke County Common Pleas Court], told me about the mentoring program in the adult probation department. I volunteered to be part of it.”
Cloyd said it was December 2011 that they started with the first probationers.
“I wish I could say it was a resounding success,” he said. “In the spring, John called me back and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We’re men on a journey. Let’s walk together for awhile. We began to hear stories of men telling us what their parents did to them. One father was the first one to shoot his son up with heroin, and another one was in 17 foster homes before he was 18 years old. “
Cloyd went on, “I had thought everyone had been raised like me. My life was the exception. My dad gave me tools to work with. With a lot of these young men, nobody ever taught them. They had no tools. Men’s Fellowship talks about reality and manhood in the state of confusion, Confused men settle for less; confused men create major problems.”
The speaker went on to say that various things caused these problems: The Industrial Revolution; World War II; and the onset of feminism.
“I worked with Dad and learned what it was like to be a man,” Cloyd said. “In World War II, women were needed in the work place more and more.”
Cloyd said the Men’s Fellowship is a 24-week program.
“The promise we make in the first session is leaving here with a clear definition of what a real man and manhood is. The definition of a real, authentic man, is that he leads courageously, avoids being passive, accepts responsibility and expects the greater reward for doing the right things.”
The second session, he said, focuses on faces.
“The king’s face is a noble leader; the warrior face, is having a backbone; the friend face is being a good friend and the lover face is to be able to love and connect with a woman,” Cloyd said. “We share being a Godly man and how to be an affectionate father.”
Those who successfully complete the program go through graduation and write a manhood plan, which they read at graduation.
“It’s an incredible experience to hear them share,” Cloyd said.
Involved in making this program successful, he said, are lawmakers, judges, probation department, prosecutor’s office, mentors and the church.
“This power of partnership is pretty special in the county,” Cloyd said. “We’re finding them employers and a place to live. Jobs are important. We’re working at giving them tools. We work with our hands up, not our hands out.”
In a question-and-answer period, Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan Hein asked if there was going to be a similar program to involve women in the county.
Cloyd responded that it is hoped that there will eventually be a program for the ladies as well as a program out of the juvenile department.
With Men’s Fellowship, it was reported Class 7 is underway with Class 8 set to get started. However, their work doesn’t stop there, and they’re not forgetting the alumni group who have already been through the program.
“We are trying to hit all bases,” said Cloyd. “You’re not going to bat 1,000 doing this.”
The program is special to him, too.
“It breeds life into a man my age to share with younger men,” Cloyd concluded. “It’s a tremendous joy.”