Rev. George P. Windley knew the emptiness feeling of growing up without a father in the home.
That is why in the late 1980s he decided to start the Manhood/Womanhood Training at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Manning.
The church held its 25th Annual Manhood/Womanhood Training on Father’s Day Weekend, June 15-16, at the National Guard Armory in Manning.
Windley began his career as a chaplain in 1989 in the South Carolina prison system.
“My first day on the job, I saw a huge array of young inmates,” he said. “After speaking with them, I found out that most grew up without a father in a home.”
Windley said that growing up without a father and being the second oldest child in his family, he had to grow up fast.
“My father died when I was seven years old and I always had that sense of emptiness,” he said. “I could relate and reach out to others who were in similar situations.”
Windley recruited various positive father figures, roles models and community leaders to come to speak at the training events over the years. The program was originally designed for young men, but today includes programs for young ladies as well.
Some of the speakers from this year’s program included Caroline Grant, prevention specialist with Clarendon Behavioral Health Services, who spoke on the tools necessary to succeed for females. Derrick Gibson, of Gibson's Floral Cart spoke on building and operating a business and Benita Jacobs-Singletary of Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina and Bertie Blanding of the South Carolina Department of Corrections-Wateree River Chapterspoke on etiquette. Rev. Michelle Holland, associate minister at Ebenezer, spoke on spirituality and relationships, Mark Smith gave a fireside chat, and U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Reginald Wood spoke on leadership.
“We want them to be leaders among their peers, to have the ability to step up and say no when they know they are about to do something that could have harmful consequences,” Wood said. “Leaders have to have the ability to step up and encourage others on what needs to be done, and have the ability to question what is right and what is wrong.”
Activities included arts and crafts, praise and worship, skill building and a talent show, as well as a special performance by the Dancing Eagles, a dance troupe of local girls and boys.
Sharmane Anderson, coordinator for this year’s event, said that she was pleased with the turnout of 36 participants.
“We want to make sure that they have the tools necessary in becoming successful men and women,” she said.
The boys and girls all received something positive out of the experience.
“I enjoyed learning how to be a man, how to take leadership and stand out from the rest of the crowd,” said Kevin Ragin.
Renee Elidieu said that everyone was friendly and willing to help.
“I enjoyed learning how to be a better Christian, helping out the community and giving your best effort,” she said.