For 20 years the group known as F.A.T.H.E.R.S. has been working with inner city youth in Buffalo. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley caught up with co-founder and president Leonard Lane to talk about his commitment to children.
F.A.T.H.E.R.S. stands for Fathers Armed Together to Help Education, Restore and Save Lives. Lane says he first co-founded the organization in 1999 after a shooting at School 61.
We held our conversation inside a main hallway of the Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction School #61 on Leroy Avenue.
1999-2019: Making Strides
"You know - we have come a long way, whereas there use to be - on the outside - we use to have some issues and some problems maybe with some young men standing on the corner, young men perhaps maybe selling things that wasn’t good around our children. We have been here since then, (at School #61) and allowed to elements away from the school…to get back to educating our children and so that's what we've been doing for the last 20-years, educating our children and giving them some of the best quality education that this school can deliver, but as the president of the Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S. group, working from the outside and now we are working more so in the inside of the school,” Lane reflected on the last 20-years.
Street Violence & youth
WBFO asked if Lane believes there will ever be a solution to the street violence, gun violence, losing young inner-city men.
“I really do think there will be a solution....because now that organizations such as ours, Buffalo F.A.T.H.E.R.S., actually not only on the streets, but actually going in the schools - actually connecting with those children that are younger," Lane responded.
Lane noted that now with past generations dying off or some in prison, a whole new generation has a chance to be lifted out of street crime & violence.
“This is a new generation of young people coming up and this is a time that we can really express how much we love them, how much we care for them and they’re not the generation X that nobody cares for them, this is a great opportunity - this generation - for us to connect with our young people, show how much we love them and let them know that we going to stay with them until they go to college,” Lane stated.
Children still struggling in difficult home lives.
“There's so much that's going on in the homes, especially when there is no father figure around and perhaps there's is not enough - relationship with mom and dad,” replied Lane.
What’s making a difference now, compared to 20-years ago?
“A real game changer is organizations like mine and organization Stop the Violence Coalition, Buffalo Peacemakers - are working together not only with the children, but with families,” remarked Lane. “Trying to get our young people, those who have dropped out of school and trying to get them back to being productive and get them back to work. A lot of our children maybe don’t have a high school education – but yet they still need a skill, they still need to be productive – they still need to take care of their families.”