What is the name of your dad’s group?
What cities or area do you serve?
Jacksonville, St Augustine and Palm Coast
How many active members do you have?
There are 36 members total, with about 15-20 regularly cycling through the events, or being active in the Facebook group. Of the remaining 16, only a 3-4 could be considered ‘no participation’ at all.
How long have you been a group?
Almost 3 years, but activity has significantly picked up in the last 3-months. The group was founded as ‘Stay-At-Home Dads JAX’ on June 12th, 2014, but changed its name to ‘Stay-At-Home Dads North East Florida’ February 4th, 2016.
There is a 4 person administration: Chris Hoskins (the page founder), Jeffrey Cole, David McFee and David Torrelio. The majority of the day events are currently run by David Torrelio, with help from Chris and Jeff. David McFee takes care of the technical aspects (webpage, podcasts, etc.) and arranges group promotion (NPR, AHDN, etc.). Combined they manage anything related to the group’s direction.
What was your most successful event?
The ‘1st Official Meeting at Aardwolf Brewing Co.’, March 19th this year. It was the first event to be ‘Dads only’ and had turnout of 9 – at the time, a 1/3 of the group. Playgroup meet-ups have been growing in recent weeks, and now around 6 is normal.
How many events do you suggest per month to keep members interested and active?
We polled the group and the general consensus was to have 1 ‘Dad only’ event every month, held on the 3rd Saturday of the month. Other than that there are random gatherings offered by members; e.g. on April 20th David Torrelio met up with a group of Dads at a Jacksonville Suns home game.
Do you offer playgroup meet ups? How many times a week do you have playgroup?
Typically playgroup meet-ups are 2 or more times per week on week days. This is dependent on members and David Torrelio’s energy levels. All members are encouraged to post an event when they are doing something to allow other guys to join in.
How did you get the word out about your group to your community?
Getting the word out is ongoing. The first promotion to go beyond the Facebook group, other than Chris’ initial contact with the At-Home Dad Network, was probably last February when David McFee interviewed Jeff Cole, David Torrelio and another member, Justin Geary, for his Stay-at-Home Dad Podcast (SAHDPod.com). Since then, David McFee has been in contact with the local National Public Radio (NPR) / Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) station (WJCT). He is to be featured on local edition of WJCT’s ‘Hometown’, where he discusses the group and SAHD issues, and on May 23rd Chris Hoskins, David Torrelio and David McFee will be guests on the WJCT’s radio show ‘First Coast Connect’ with Melissa Ross.
On a more personal level, David Torrelio and Chris Hoskins also make it a point to mention the group to Stay-at-Home Dads they come across on playdates. We’ve found through this that many simply aren’t on Facebook, and for that reason the SAHDNEFL.com website was created.
Do you offer Dad’s Night Out Events? Where do you go?
Yes. To date there have been 2, with another set for May 21st at Kickbacks Gastropub in Jacksonville. The venue has changed each time, rotating through the bars in Jacksonville. There has been a discussion to take it to St Augustine occasionally, however, to make it easier for the members outside of Jacksonville.
What is the age range of the children in your group?
David Torrelio conducted a poll through the group and found at least 2/3s were below the age of 3, with the majority 1-3. The range does extend from 6mths to over 5.
Do you meet in a common place in your community or at members’ homes?
In a common place is the rule, with St Johns Towns Center to the south east of Jacksonville being the most regular. Every Friday the ‘Barnes and Noble’ there offers Story Time, and Dads meet up for that before heading to a nearby Play Park for a chat.
What advice would you give dads who want to start their own group?
There are six major points, really:
1) Get registered with the AHDN and establish a Facebook group. That’s how most people will find you.
2) Gather a core group of Admin; you can’t do it alone.
3) Hold regular playdates. And after the fact, follow it with a Facebook post, one that includes pictures.
4) Hold a regular – monthly – Dads only event. Guys with toddlers often spend much of a play date making sure their kids don’t hurt themselves. A Dads only event allows them to unwind, relax and talk.
5) Once you are more established, build a website with contact information and a calendar of events. A lot of people don’t like Facebook.
6) Finally, look for alternate ways to promote the group. There is always a local paper, podcast, radio or TV station, looking for a local interest story. Contact them; you just never know.
What is special or unique about your group that sets you apart from other dad’s groups?
The group is not unique in this, but it is extraordinary in that it has such a committed group of Admin. It’s all too easy for small groups to ‘hibernate’; Chris Hoskins, Jeffrey Cole, David McFee and David Torrelio are committed to not let that happen.
Other than that, we cover all ranges of age, religion, ethnicity and politics. These things could so easily divide a group, but we refuse to let them do so. Our brief is to provide help to “dads in Jacksonville and surrounding areas that want to find activities to do with their children and other stay at home dads.” As a group, this is all that is important.