Alana Allen’s father was a constant in her life until she was 15.
Then he separated from her mom.
Allen was lonely and blamed herself.
“I became a serial dater all the way into my 20s,” Allen said. “It took me turning 30 to seek counseling, do the hard work, forgive myself and forgive my dad.”
Allen, 31, decided to use her experiences to help teen girls. She founded I Am a Queen, a teen empowerment nonprofit, eight years ago.
When she learned that 90 percent of the girls in her program did not have fathers active in their lives, she started the Fatherless Daughter Community Forum last year. It was such a success that Allen decided to make it an annual event. The free second annual forum is Saturday at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
Teen girls will hear advice, wisdom and guidance they might not get at home from other fathers and male leaders.
The forum “is designed to bring fathers together to empower, encourage and enlighten teen girls about their self-worth and offer guidance in areas they may lack,” Allen said. “We want to show fatherhood in a positive light and provide teen girls with the tools to forgive and move forward in their lives by making healthy decisions.”
The forum will be hosted by Kevin Maxwell, an English teacher at Smith High School, and speakers on the panel include Bobby Patterson, owner and consultant, Slight Edge Business Consulting; Ken Devanney, television studio manager and producer, N.C. A&T University; Jeff Crosby, owner and graphic designer, A Designer Named Jeff; Demetrius Brown, owner and director, Trinity Brown Group; the Rev. Christopher Brown, senior pastor, Burnett’s Chapel Christian Church; and Shawn Dulin, administrator and public speaker.
“These men all have daughters, including the host, and they are able to speak from personal experience to help girls,” Allen said.
Though I am a Queen serves girls ages 10 to 18, the forum is open to all ages. Each participant will receive “Letters to My Father,” a compilation of letters from daughters sharing their stories of triumph, healing and appreciation. The fathers on the panel will add letters of wisdom to the book.
“Letters to My Father” is a project of the I Am a Queen program to help girls share their stories of healing and moving forward or appreciation for their fathers.
“For some of the girls in the program, it was really hard, but they pushed through it,” Allen said of the girls’ efforts to write letters.
Women in the community were also asked to share their letters and testimony for the booklet.
“Being fatherless can be defined as the lack of an emotional bond between a child and their father due to, but not limited to, death, divorce, abuse, addiction, incarceration or abandonment,” Allen said.
Fatherless children are more likely to experience poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, low educational achievement, crime, sexual abuse and violence, risky sexual activity, teen pregnancy and a decline in physical and emotional health, according to the National Center for Fathering report “The Consequences of Fatherlessness.”
Allen hopes to help girls avoid these problems through her work with I Am a Queen and the Fatherless Daughter Community Forum.
“The role of the father is to affirm his children, and when a girl is not receiving positive affirmations at home, such as, ‘You are beautiful; you are a queen; you have value; it’s a blessing to wait and remain pure,’ they will seek it from other places, resulting in low self-esteem, unhealthy relationships and poor decision making,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, it’s important to have these conversations that can honestly change their life and help make an impact.”
Contact Jennifer Atkins Brown at (336) 574-5582.