Fathers take many forms. Biological, adoptive, religious—fathers of countries, of communities, of organizations. But the qualities we recognize in them and thank them for are often the same. Their protection, guidance, and unwavering love and support are the things that lift us up to new heights.
In honor of Father’s Day, we’d like to take the time to recognize a handful of paternal figures in the nonprofit space responsible for incredible impact. To fathers everywhere of every kind, thank you for all that you do.
Pastor Lee is a father in all senses of the word. A biological father, an adoptive father, a pastor, and a driving force behind the organization, Kindred Image.
He didn’t plan to father so many children, yet his compassion, kind nature, and steadfast support for his son, Eun-man, led him down this path. When Eun-man was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy, Pastor Lee developed a reputation for living in the hospital in devotion to his son—so much so that it led a woman to ask Pastor Lee to adopt her disabled daughter. He and his wife supported several other children they met in their time at the hospital, and soon news spread about their generosity and willingness to care for children in need. It was this reputation that led a woman to leave her child on his doorstep in the middle of a winter night when she saw no other option.
Because Pastor Lee believes in life and its beauty and purpose in all forms, he built the “drop box” in an effort to save the lives of children abandoned by their mothers in South Korea. Today he and his wife have adopted 10 children and saved over 660 children who passed through the drop box.
Kindred Image began as quest to create a feature-documentary, The Drop-Box, around Pastor Lee’s work. Today, the organization’s programs, partnerships, and film work to continue his legacy and raise awareness. Their mission is to end child abandonment and foster a culture of life around the world so that the drop box doesn’t even need to exist.
Learn more about Pastor Lee and how Kindred Image works to ensure every child is afforded the life they deserve.
On April 20, 1999, Rachel Scott was the first fatality in the Columbine High School shooting. In the time that followed the tragedy, it became clear that her life and her actions were an inspiration to many around her. Before her death, her kind nature had even helped prevent a young man from committing suicide. Her parents saw their daughter’s impact and realized the potential for her life to continue to inspire others even beyond her death.
Today, her father, Darrell Scott, is the president of an organization called Rachel’s Challenge. His love for his daughter and belief in the power of her life and story have helped to create one of the largest intervention programs in America.
Through her diaries and the stories surrounding her life, Rachel’s Challenge speakers and programs seek to make schools a safer place. Their efforts reduce acts of bullying and violence, create feelings of connectedness, and increase acts of kindness and community service.
Over 1.5 million have been involved in Rachel’s Challenge programs, and more than 150 suicides have been prevented. Learn more about Darrell Scott’s leadership at Rachel’s Challenge and how you can get involved.
Ordained priest Father Greg Boyle knew something had to be done to address the disorder and violence in his Los Angeles community. He understood the roles of jobs and education in the success of a community, so he decided to found Homeboy Industries.
As executive director, he partnered with local community members to create job opportunities and resources for former gang members and formerly incarcerated individuals to help them change their lives.
Homeboy Industries’ nonprofit economic development enterprises give rival gang members an opportunity to work together towards the same goal. These enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Farmers Market, and Homeboy Diner.
Father Greg is also well-known for his public speaking, in which he often shares his belief in the power of compassion and love.
For the measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them, in mutuality.
Learn more about Father Greg and how Homeboy Industries works to lower youth recidivism rates and provide the support that former gang members need to make a positive transition.
When Richard and Diane Nares’ young son, Emilio, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, they experienced the eye-opening reality of what it’s like to live in the hospital to support a family member’s illness. Many other families in similar situations did not have access to the support they needed during this time, including one of the most essential necessities: transportation to treatment.
When Emilio Nares passed away at only five years old, Richard and Diane began the foundation to both honor Emilio and fulfill this essential need for young children. Richard, the executive director of the foundation, began driving families to their appointments for cancer treatments and today, the foundation’s programs strive to ensure no child misses a cancer treatment due to lack of transportation.
What started in San Diego county as just Richard and his van has since evolved into an organization that serves four regions and hopes to provide access around the country. To date, they’ve provided 4,500 rides and served 250 patients yearly. Learn more about Richard Nares and the Emilio Nares Foundation and how you can help them bring their services to families in need.
In the summer of 2002, on what should have been an ordinary day, beloved father and husband Michael Hart Salem suffered sudden cardiac arrest and passed away during a game of golf. While it’s unclear if a defibrillator would have saved his life, Michael’s partners at Heathwood Homes and the Heron Group of Companies founded the Mikey Network to honor his memory and his generous spirit, and to provide as many people possible with access to immediate life-saving technology in high risk areas.
Michael was well-known for his generosity and caring demeanor as a father, friend, son, and in his professional life. His love for others has inspired the Mikey Network’s mission to provide access to “Mikeys,” or defibrillators, to as many people as possible and to promote heart-health and a healthy lifestyle.
To date, a Mikey has saved 31 lives. Learn more about Michael Hart Salem and The Mikey Network’s life-saving programs.
These men and organizations demonstrate the power of sharing compassion and kindness with the entire world around us, not just with our immediate family members and friends. Do you have your own inspirational story about a father you’d like to share for Father’s Day? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.