Nominating Organization: Make the Road New York

 Steven with his sisters as children growing up in NYC.  

Steven with his sisters as children growing up in NYC.  

 Steven with his sisters and their mother. 

Steven with his sisters and their mother. 

What makes a man a man? Is it his upbringing? Is it the ability to provide for his family? Is it never showing fear or tears? Is it holding your ground even when the whole world shakes beneath your feet? What makes a man, a man? That is the question I've been asking myself for some time now.

I am 22 years old and I was conceived in the Dominican Republic but born in Brooklyn, New York. My mom was seven months pregnant with me when she boarded an airplane in 1991 with my older sister and came to live in the states. I have never met my father and the main reason for that is because things have always been financially hard for my mom as a single parent.  We could not afford to travel to the Dominican Republic. My sisters and I have seen my mother struggle to raise us, working multiple jobs, dealing with disrespectful people while she worked as a waitress for over a decade.

I've never had the luxury of being able to call someone "dad," and I put it in quotations because it is not a simple role to fill. I've never had the luxury of looking up to a positive role model; and I call it a luxury because so many of us lack that opportunity. Now that I think about it I've never had a male role model to look up to at all.

Every man that has come in and out of my life always had a defect. No one in this world is perfect, trust me I know, but the defects present were great enough to overshadow any good traits the men had. The majority of them were womanizers and weren't capable of treating a woman the way I always imagined you should treat one: with equal respect.

I am my mother's only son and I am also the middle child. Growing up in a house full of women is tough, not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be difficult at times. Most boys are told not to cry, that they must "man up" and be tough. I have never heard those words from my mother or sisters but there were many cases where I had to fend for myself. I was looked after as a child and I love my mother for everything she has done for me, but there is only so much a mother can do for her baby boy.

There is a lot a father can contribute to in the transformation a boy undergoes when he is becoming a man. I don't know what that is like and I believe the time for mentoring is gone, but there is still a man out there that is my father. I just can't let that go. I have always wanted to meet my father, to see where I came from, to SHOW him that his only son has done a good job of holding his own.

I am not a man...not yet, but I know I am more of a man than a lot of males I've come across in my life. I want my father to look at me and say "wow, my little boy is all grown up." Having the opportunity to finally meet my father, create that first memory, share laughs, stories and hardships holds significant value to me. I want to be able to look him in the face and finally call him dad. 

FUNDRAISING UPDATE 4/11/14: THIS FLIGHT IS FULLY FUNDED! YAY!


 Dena & Shana (this picture was taken in the Dominican Republic! Both Dena & Shana lived there for some time)

Dena & Shana (this picture was taken in the Dominican Republic! Both Dena & Shana lived there for some time)

STEVEN'S FLIGHT CREW 

Dena & Shana Simmons

We are so excited to raise funds to support Steven's trip to meet his father in the Dominican Republic. Growing up without our father, we could relate to his longing to meet his father and will be honored to have a role, any role, in helping him fill this void. We hope that Steven's reunion with his father will be fruitful and will grow into a sustained relationship, where they will be able to share stories and laughs and support each other through hardships. In helping Steven, we also hope to be helping his mother, whose struggle to support her three children reminds us of the struggles of our own immigrant mother.

We grew up the Bronx, New York in a one-bedroom apartment with Dana (Dena's twin), our Antiguan mother, Jackie, and our Aunt Nova.  Shana is a lawyer at Google in Mountain View and full-time mom to a delicious 16 month old boy, and Dena is an educator and soon-to-be-graduate of a doctoral program at Teachers College, Columbia University.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE 4/11/14: THIS FLIGHT IS FULLY FUNDED! YAY!