03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Giving Thanks

The Good Men Project , just an idea a year ago, became a reality this month. We've released our book and the DVD of our documentary film, and we've received tons of publicity, including appearances on local TV in Boston and on national TV. But most important, we have begun taking our message of manhood to the streets -- to schools, bookstores, community centers, and a prison.

We've been to Sing Sing to talk to lifers, premiered our film in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 500 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and visited a boys' school in Massachusetts with our NFL Hall of Fame contributor. In New York, we staged an off-Broadway reading with an ex-con who got out of the drug trade and Ivy League grad who left his family's multinational business. We had another reading in New York on sexuality at a community center for gay and lesbians, and we screened the film at a feminist bookstore.

Co-editors Tom Matlack, Larry Bean, James Houghton.  Photo by Aram Boghosian

Co-Editors Tom Matlack, Larry Bean and James Houghton

We've presented a wide range of manhood-related topics at an even wider range of venues, but here I want to talk about fatherhood, specifically the effect the absence of a father can have on children. According to the Fathers & Families Coalition of America, more than 28 million children in the United States do not have a dad in their home, and more than a third of those children will not have any contact with their fathers in the next year. The coalition reports that a child with an absent father is 71 percent less likely to complete high school than is a child living in a household where a father is present, and that 85 percent of the youths in juvenile detention centers across the country grew up without fathers. These numbers suggest that boys from fatherless homes can easily fall into the at-risk population.

The Good Men Foundation, the charitable arm of the Good Men Project, was set up to benefit organizations that help boys who are at-risk. The foundation will donate proceeds from the sales of the book and DVDs to such organizations. Sales so far have been brisk enough for us to give thanks to a few groups that do amazing work with at-risk boys. We're making $5,000 grants to the Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Dorchester Youth Alternative Academy and Trinity Street Potential in Boston, and Exodus Transitional Community in New York.

You can do your part as well: buy our book and DVD package for the people -- men and women -- on your holiday gift list. All proceeds will go to the aforementioned organizations, and you'll be spreading the work about the Good Men Project and helping to foster a nationwide conversation about what it means to be a good father, good son, good husband, good worker, and good man.


Tom Matlack addressing The Belmont Hill School where students asked questions like, "If I do something bad is it still possible for me to be a good man?"