Long Beach City College host first annual Father-Con

Story and photos by Malik Reeves

Patrick Ehrlandson who was introduced as "father of Father-Con” opened and influenced him to start the event.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Timothy Rarick, stood on stage giving a lecture on the bond between fathers and daughters, standing seemingly confident until he said what his daughter told him before leaving for his flight to Long Beach, “Daddy, I just wanted to call you and tell you I love you.” Rarick then began to cry.

LBCC hosted its first annual Father-Con at LAC on Saturday, discussing the obstacles of fatherhood, tips on being a better father, and helping them be aware of the threats their children face from human trafficking.

Patrick Ehrlandson who was introduced as the “father of Father-Con” set up the event partnered with Dr. Claudia Garcia of the LBCC Foster and Kinship Care Education Program. They aimed to get numerous speakers that were experts in how to mold men into becoming fathers and have experience with human trafficking or have been a human trafficker.

The event began at 9 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. with the first portion of the event being a different variety of workshops from 10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Donald Ray Parish Jr. who came all the way from Dallas, Texas is best known for his role in having 600 men show up for his “Breakfast with Dads” event.

The workshop on Saturday was titled Why I Should Give a Damn. Parish Jr. discussed how Ehrlandson sold him on the idea of Father-con and how he loved his vision.

“I’m a pastor so I deeply believe in faith and that God makes everything happen, so when I ran into Patrick while he was in Dallas and he told me about this event he had in mind, I told him wherever it’s at I don’t care if I have to fly myself out I will be there,” Parish Jr. said.

Guest speaker Tika Thornton, who was kidnapped and sold as a trafficker at the early age of 12, referred to herself not as a victim but as a survivor.

Thornton discussed how she grew up without her father in her life and felt resentment toward him until she realized it wasn’t her fault, but that he was dealing with his own issues.

“It took almost until my late 30s to realize that it wasn’t the burden of having to raise me or take care of me, but it was that he was going through his own personal problems in his life he had to deal with,” said Thornton.

Thornton works with a program called Journey Out, that helps set up stings to catch human traffickers and helps women to get out of that situation.

“I have an amazing team around me and we help these females and let them know that they are not victims, but are merely survivors, we give them an identity,” Thornton said.

Rarick discussed how daughters first real experience with how a man should be towards a woman is from their fathers.

“These daughters don’t need dads, anybody can be a dad, they need a father, a father that shows them affection and show them what real love looks like,” Rarick said.

Rarick discussed his interaction with his daughters and how his methods are making them more aware of the kind of men they would want to date or eventually marry when they get older.

“My daughter told me I want boyfriend that treats me the way you treat mom, and I’m no perfect dad I yell and raise my voice but I’m glad my daughters have an idea of what real love is,” Rarick said.

Ehrlandson described the outcome of the first annual Father-Con at LBCC.

“We hoped for more people to come but we also knew this was the first one, we got a lot more attention from the media about this it’s something that needs to be brought to the attention of people and we got the conversation started,” Ehrlandson said.

Ehrlandson talked about what’s next for this event and what is coming up in the future.

“We’re hoping the next one will be in June, El Camino College is really excited to have us they invited us and we have to keep moving the venue and keep the energy flowing, when you’re on your deathbed you’re not thinking about how much money you’ve made or how dedicated you were to your job, you’re thinking about your kids, your wife, and your family,” Ehrlandson said.