Stronger

Stronger

As 2022 comes to a close, we hope you’ll take a minute to see the impact of families who have been made STRONGER this past year because of your service, your giving, and your prayers.

Man Up and Go is making a special push between now and June 30, 2023, to see all of our constituents— the foster families and foster children we serve, the young men aging out of foster care we disciple, and the biological fathers we support— made STRONGER over the next 18 months. ​​​

As you look at their pictures and read their stories, our prayer is that you will consider a special year end gift to help us all see STRONGER communities as we fight for the fatherless together in 2023!​​​​

“THANK YOU! Thank you! Thank you! This group of guys cranked out our new play set and trampoline in 5 hours this morning! We are beyond grateful! It was a great morning with a wonderful group of guys and young men!” 

“Thanks so much for the wonderful event at Keystone Ranch! All our kids loved it, and our foster son asked all the way home when the next one would be…can we go every time, “there will be another one and we can go again,” etc… Never have seen him this excited to go back somewhere!”

“Omgosh. That Christmas gift was a literal blessing. Thank you so much! We are blown away by the kindness everyone has showed us and the love and support we feel. Please tell everyone thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
This is really going to help with added expenses this newest case is bringing with it.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!”

“My family would like to send a huge thank you!!! We attended our first Man Up event as a foster family and the memories made were endless.  A huge goal was met by our 9 yr old foster, B. He loves ducks and has always wanted to hold one and was so excited that his dream came true.  Thank you for everything you do.  A lot of these sweet kids miss out on so much that people take for granted.  Organizations like yours allow us foster parents to give them those moments that make them only focus on being a kid, that is huge!!!!! I have some amazing pictures of our kiddos holding the duck and chickens I would love to share with your volunteers so they can see the joy in their eyes.  Lastly, it was our now 3yr olds actual birthday and he felt like it was all “his party”!We appreciate you all so much!”

Thank you again for making your year-end gift to help us fighting for the fatherless – as always, we are praying God’s richest blessings upon you and your family this Christmas season.​​​

Remember, the best is yet to come! ​

Jeff Ford, CEO

Football Fling 2022!

Football Fling 2022!

At Man Up And Go’s 6th Annual Football Fling, we raised well over the $100,000 goal we had set. (By comparison, the most we had raised at this event in the past was $47,000.) I encourage you to watch this video and check out all the fun we had! (Click the photo below to watch video.)

Not only did we have a record-setting night of giving, a long-time Champion gave an additional $100,000 one-time gift to help propel the organization forward in a unique way. The Lord is opening up doors of opportunity right now and your giving is enabling us to walk through them. 


Why do I mention this? What is the significance, especially if you live in areas where Man Up has yet to launch a local Cohort?

Because right now in the state of Florida, state and local government agencies in charge of child welfare are recognizing what Man Up has been trumpeting for the last 10 years, that fatherlessness negatively impacts a child’s ability to thrive. They passed groundbreaking legislation this year to the tune of 70 million dollars to start addressing it.

Regardless of where you live, the awakening happening within the Florida legislature represents an awakening that is happening across the country. We have an opportunity to bring God’s view on masculinity into environments that are otherwise unavailable to us. Moreover, your giving enables us to provide specific programming that state dollars won’t.

Because of your giving, we have been able to partner with the State to see:
2236 individual support services provided to foster families resulting in 100% retention rate over the last 12 months
– Over 1600 hours volunteered by Man Up 100 Cohort members
– Over 800 hours spent mentoring aged-out foster male youth, resulting in a 75% increase in stable housing, a 73% increase in employment/school, and a 92% decrease in police/criminal interactions

By God’s grace, He has also positioned us to pilot a mentoring initiative for biological fathers to help them safely reunify with their children.

What God is allowing Man Up and Go to build in Florida can be replicated all over the United States– Cohorts of godly men fighting side by side for foster children, foster families, male youth aging out of care, and biological fathers who just need a little support. 

Together, we are breaking the chains of generational fatherlessness. We truly believe the best is yet to come, and we can’t thank you enough for walking with us in this journey!

Regards,

Jeff Ford, CEO

Adoption Post!

Congratulations to the Rodriguezes!

Foster families have a very special role to play in the lives of the children in care. They are committed to providing a safe home for children whose biological families are working through a case plan aimed at reunifying with their children. When reunification isn’t possible, adoption becomes a viable option for the family that has been caring for these children’s needs. The Rodriguez family has been actively fostering four of the eight children in their home for over three years (we share this with their permission).

Both fostering and adoption reflect the Gospel in such unique ways. The Gospel simply means “The Good News.” Fostering reminds us that God has called us to be vessels of reconciliation and restoration – this is really Good News! When you foster, you provide a family the opportunity to have a second chance at creating a safe environment for their children.When this isn’t possible, adoption gives us a peak into the amazing gospel story. In the same way that God takes us in as His children and gives us His inheritance, this family has looked at these four children and taken them in as their own and made them a part of the Rodriguez Family!

This is why Man Up and Go exists. We believe that children are precious to God and especially fatherless children. God often refers to His care for the fatherless and so should we. Our Man Up 100 program is dedicated to serving families like the Rodriguezes, who are sacrificially caring for children that need a loving home. If you would like to join us in supporting more families like this, please Click Here.

-The Man Up Team

A Car for a Foster Family.

Everyone can do something!

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.

Galatians 6:10

A few weeks ago, our ministry friends at One More Child reached out to the Man Up and Go team about a foster family they serve.  The family was in search of a car for their foster daughter, so they asked if we knew anyone looking to sell or donate a vehicle.  The family’s daughter had worked diligently over the last several months and saved up her own money to make this special purchase.  Our team was glad to be on the lookout! 

Little did we know we would not have to look far!  When a fellow Man Up and Go team member heard of the need she knew exactly how she could help.  In God’s providence, she was working on getting a Ford Mustang prepared to sell.  Instead of listing it online, she offered it up to the family.  Man Up and Go matched the young girl’s savings, the family pitched in, and it was just enough for her to purchase her own car!

God calls all His followers to do what we can with what He has given us – whenever we have the opportunity. Our team member was in the right place at the right time, responded to God’s call, and was used by God to fulfill a need in this young lady’s life.  

What is one way you can do good today? 

You may not be able to buy someone a car, but you may be able to fulfill a need in a creative way!  Be on the lookout.  Do what you can!

What does the Bible say about this role and relationship? God is clear about His requirements, men are to love, protect, disciple, and provide for their families. He holds men to a high standard due to the importance of their role in the home – and how it can impact an entire community. God holds fathers accountable for how they lead (or fail to lead) their family. Ultimately, a father’s job is to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father. He is to model grace, mercy, justice, joy, and care so that when we look at him, we see the grace of God, the mercy of God, the justice of God, the joy of God, and the care of God.​​​​

As we read through God’s Word, we see time and time again God display His heart for the fatherless. With no father figure to reflect the heart of a Heavenly Father – some believe the tragic lie that God Himself is absent or lacks compassion.  As followers of Christ, we know this isn’t true.  In fact, we know the Lord has a special place in His heart for the fatherless.  May this motivate our Man Up and Go family to continue forward with this message – God is here, God cares, and there is place for the fatherless in the family of God.

-The Man Up Team

Celebrating the Life of a True Servant Leader.

One of the greatest calls for a man is to be a servant leader. We see this throughout the Scriptures, and we see it perfectly displayed in the life of Christ. Why is this such an important role for us to play? Because we are commanded to walk like Christ! To seek first the Kingdom of God, to put others ahead of ourselves, knowing that the last shall be first.

Men have a responsibility to lead in our communities. Not just to lead though — to lead by example. To serve those in need and to meet people where they are.

One of the best examples we know of servant leadership in action is this man, Rick Sadorf.​​

Rick began serving with Man Up and Go several years ago – setting up Christmas lights for single foster moms, doing landscaping projects, and cooking and delivering meals with his amazing wife Barb. An attorney and CPA by day, Rick put on his Jesus cape by night, advocating for the fatherless whenever he could.

Recently (and suddenly) Rick went home to be with the Lord. As surprising as it was, it gave us the opportunity to rename our “Man of the Year Award” to the “Rick Sadorf Award” – which was presented to Barb last week.​

We need more men like Rick Sadorf in the world, and this is where we’re calling on you . . . be a mentor, serve a meal, sponsor a fatherless child, go on a trip . . . all these are ways you can “Man Up” by lowering yourself to serve those in need.​

For more information on mentoringclick HERE.

For more information on serving foster familiesclick HERE.

For more information on sponsoring a childclick HERE.

For more information on Impact Tripsclick HERE.

-The Man Up Team

Authentic Masculinity & Discipleship

Working with young men who have aged out of the foster care system does not bring the instant gratification we secretly desire when we look to help others. Feeding a homeless man or buying a backpack for a child living in poverty produces immediate, tangible results that provide the giver with immediate hits of dopamine. These aren’t intrinsically bad (and food scarcity is an important topic to address), but if the only reason we serve is because we want the personal benefits of serving, then we have missed the mark Jesus has for us.

Discipleship isn’t about immediacy or necessarily even how it makes us feel. It’s actually about doing what Jesus told us to do – “Go and make disciples…” – something that we oftentimes overcomplicate or overthink because making disciples is messy. Entering into the life of another is time consuming, emotionally draining, and can be financially burdensome. Tack on the fact that we don’t even know if we’re a very good disciple ourselves, and it’s a lot easier to take a pass on the whole discipleship thing.

Thankfully there is a really easy way to share the good news about Jesus with others – go have a meal together.

That’s what we did last month with some of the young men in our Authentic Masculinity Program. We went to a restaurant, ate some food, and talked about life. Dating, marriage, fatherhood, meal etiquette, were all conversations we had that evening. The food was great, the atmosphere was a little fancier than (all of us!) we’re used to, but the questions, the answers, the listening, the affirming, the nodding, the caring, the sharing – that’s what the evening was all about. There wasn’t a program or curriculum (not that there’s anything wrong with those) – it was just being human together.

The long term effects of our interactions with these young men are unknown. But make no mistake – the discipleship process is happening. For those who are taking seriously Jesus’ words, the immediate benefit comes in the increased intimacy we have with the Savior. As for the long term results? They’re in the hands of Jesus.

If you are interested in being a part of this incredible program please click here to apply.

Installation Celebration!

A roof is one of the most important parts of the home. “I put a roof over your head” is a common phrase for almost any parent that ever existed. Why is that? Well, we aren’t architects but we do know that protection from storms, weather damage, and more are basic needs for any family. Yet, when your roof starts having issues, that basic need becomes a costly one.

Arry’s Roofing has a kindred spirit to that of Man Up and Go, so it was a no-brainer for us to partner together and meet the need of one of the families enrolled in our Adopt A Family program. 

Our foster families sacrifice so much to care and love on the children in their homes. As they invest countless hours into their children they also have doctors appointments, case managers coming in, therapy appointments, and the list goes on. The least we can do is take care of the mountainous task or repairing or replacing a roof. 

​That is where Arry’s Roofing comes in! They generously gifted an entire roof to the family and through an installation celebration. Click below to watch our Celebration Installation video.

New Man Up and Go Team Members!

As Man Up Tampa Bay grows, so does our need for more hands on deck. Our Adopt A Family program and our Man Up 100 program would not run without our MUTB Coordinator. This is why Gabby Shatto’s arrival was key! She has a history in event planning, a love for Jesus, and has been utilizing that gift since she walked through our doors. We are so thankful for how ready she is to serve and help in anyway possible. Gabby is truly a servant leader and has remained positive even in the midst of joining our organization while we were planning events, transitioning staff, and managing events/trips. We are excited for how Gabby will coordinate our families and members, and for her expertise as we throw events for the organization and our families.

For the past 3 years, Man Up and Go has been growing one team member at a time. We have added on an Executive Assistant, Digital Storyteller, and Programs Director. In 2021, we set out to make sure our organization is running as efficiently as possible to glorify the Lord with how we steward His organization. In 2022, we began the search for a Chief of Operations. This person had to have not only the skills of a COO but a heart for the fatherless and the Lord! As time passed it became clear who that person was. She was in our midst the whole time! One of our prized board members, Stephanie Shermeta. Stephanie has spent over a decade in ministry, she has lived overseas, she has been a pivotal board member for Man Up and Go, and she has been a faithful sister in Christ. We hope you will give Stephanie a huge congratulations when you see her at any of our Man Up and Go gatherings or events. We are so thankful for God’s work in her life and we are excited for what God is has in store for us at Man Up and Go.

Adoption Shoutout! (MUTB)

One of the incredible families in our AAF program just adopted their son! We are so honored to be a part of this family’s journey as they foster a loving and healthy home for their children. God is the author of adoption. This is a true reflection of what it looks like to not only treat someone with love and care but to actually bring them into your home and make them family! We praise the Lord for what He is doing through the Slavik family.

LIFE SKILLS AMP’d (May 2022)

For the last 8 months Man Up Tampa Bay has engaged in a pilot program aimed at breaking the chains of generational fatherlessness among those who have aged-out of foster care.

Who are these men? They are young men ages 18-24 who have spent at least some time in foster care and are growing into adulthood. Statistics tell us that these young men (and women!) are at far greater risk for negative societal outcomes than their peers who did not encounter foster care. For instance, 

  • 1 in 2 are homeless1
  • 90% with 5 or more placements have encountered the justice system2
  • 1 in 2 are unemployed3

These realities stack the deck against these fatherless young men in ways that most of us cannot understand. To really understand their reality we must enter into it.

This is what Man Up is doing with our Authentic Masculinity Program – domestic. One of the biggest ways we can help these young men is to provide them with an opportunity to work. Not only does this help them financially, but they are living out a God-ordained calling to provide for themselves.

This past weekend we invited some of the young men up to the Ranch to hear how a former aged-out foster kid used his circumstances as motivation to propel him forwards. That “kid” is now a grown man who sold a business up north with over 100 employees cutting 4000 lawns each week. Man Up is partnering with him to offer lawn care training to our young men at the Ranch.

We also spent time just hanging out and furthering the relationship by doing what every red-blooded American male wants to do – RACE! We had a fantastic time go-karting, talking trash to one another, and asking the young men about their summer plans, what goals they have, and how we can pray for and encourage them. 

This program is designed to break the chains of generational fatherlessness, so we’re just getting started. The relationship—earning and keeping trust— is the most important thing.

1 – https://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/foster-care-and-homelessness

2 – http://www.cjcj.org/uploads/cjcj/documents/the_foster_care_to_prison_pipeline.pdf

3 – https://assets.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-theeconomicwellbeingofyouth-2017.pdf