3 Queensland Dads Making A Difference

For many of us, our dads are the first men we ever loved. They are our heroes, our protectors and our go-to guys. So, to celebrate the fathers and the father figures in our lives, this month, PakMag sat down with three amazing dads who are making a difference in their community.

Mark Allen: Our Cover Star

Mark and his wife Belinda live in Malanda with their three children Caden (7), Khy (5) and Mabel (3) who, with 18 months between each, keep their parents on their toes. When Mark isn’t looking after his own children, he is helping students at Malanda State School reach their full potential.

Mark is the school’s Principal, in fact, he’s one of Queensland’s youngest Principals, and with his attitude towards his work, it’s clear to see that he’s perfect for the role.

“I love teaching,” Mark says. “I’m energised by leading a team of people with a single, productive culture. Working with people is always inspiring; every day I’m surprised by the quality of the work I see. If you’re ever looking for something to brighten your day, come to my school. It’s the happiest place around.”

His passion for helping people extends beyond the classroom and his support for charitable causes has been long-standing.

“For the last 17 years, I’ve volunteered on the Cairns to Karumba Charity Ride (including 10 years on the Board of Directors),” Mark tells us. “I have helped to Fosterraise over one million dollars to help all FNQ children get the best education they can. I’m also part of the Christmas Lights Ride, raising money for Ronald McDonald House. I’ve given many thousands of hours to charities, helping the people of the Far North.”

Mark’s dedication to his family and his role as dad is second to none and he acknowledges that he owes that to his own father who taught him what it means to be a ‘good bloke’. And it’s his upbringing, as well as his experience with his own children, which inspires his belief that quality time spent with family is one of the most important parts of life.

“Build-in, don’t bolt-on!” Mark recommends when discussing advice that he can offer to other dads. “Take the kids with you to do the things you love doing, and they’ll love doing it with you!

Darren Lewis

Darren is a Townsville dad on a mission. His business ‘Fathering Adventures’ equips, empowers and encourages men to be intentional in their role as fathers, and in their relationships with each of their children, through the facilitation of Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventure experiences.

Darren and his wife, Melissa, have been married for 26 years, and together have raised four sons, Brandon (23) who is now married, Isaac (20) who now lives on the Gold Coast, Joseph (18), and Theo (14).

Born from his passion for helping others, his love for spending time with his own family and his affinity with all things outdoors, Fathering Adventures sees dads and their children travel from all over Australia, and all over the world to join Darren on an adventure. Through his programs, Darren
aims to help foster happier, stronger, and healthier relationships between themselves, and the rest of their family.

Darren sums up the outcomes of Fathering Adventures in one word; growth.

“Dads always make so many profound discoveries, both personally and relationally, during their time with us,” Darren says. “They discover just how important their role is, that it’s so much more than just being a provider and a disciplinarian. They discover what their sons or daughters need to hear and receive from them, and therefore what they themselves needed to have heard and received from their own dads.”

Darren’s aim is also firmly on helping boys on their journey to becoming incredible men.

“Too many parents believe that boys will become good men on their own,” Darren says. “If only it were that easy. Boys need to be prepared for the journey to become a young man, and to eventually become an authentic man. And masculinity is bestowed by masculinity. A boy needs a dad, or in the absence of dad, a significant male other, to be present and involved in his journey.

“Our “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experiences provide a process containing all of the essential elements, for boys, young men, and mature-age men, aged 13 years and older – no maximum age limit, and their dads or significant male others.”

Darren’s desire to help others build their relationships with their family and help young people become amazing adults in a fun environment is as inspirational
as it is unique. For more information about how you can have your own adventure, check out www.fatheringadventures.com.au

Henry Leafa

Born in New Zealand into a large Samoan family, Henry Leafa grew up as a very shy and insecure child, feeling he had to prove himself continuously. As a result, he began to get involved with the wrong crowd and he acknowledges that his life was definitely headed down the wrong path.

Moving to Australia as a teenager changed the course of his life. Today, as one of the pastors and founders of Rock Church, he is passionate about being a positive influence in the community and believes we can all make a difference.

Henry and his wife of 25 years, Helen, have five children, a daughter-in-love and a beautiful grandson. He’s passionate about mentoring dads to be a positive influence in their children’s’ lives.

“The Strengths Program is a facilitated program for up to 10 fathers in a safe, supportive and father friendly environment.” Henry tells us. “The program uses Father Mentors who have all previously completed the course to provide hands-on support for the challenge of moving to a greater level of fathering excellence.”

“Dads get to talk openly and honestly about the challenges they face.” Henry tells us when talking about the positive outcomes that the program has for dads. “Strengths provides a safe and supportive environment for men to be real.”

Henry puts emphasis on the importance of support. “I would like dads to know they are not alone in their struggles.” Henry advises. “You must have at least one friend or mentor that you can be honest and vulnerable with on a regular basis because the research shows that one of the biggest struggles men face is loneliness. Men tend to bottle everything up then snap when a crisis happens. All of us face challenges but you don’t have to face them alone.”

As advice to mums, Henry says, “Men thrive when they feel valued and it activates a desire to do better. Celebrate his strengths. Many dads experience feelings of inadequacy particularly as our reference point is our own experience as a son which could have been positive or negative.”

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