This installment of the "Dad'n It" Series is a gentleman with a drive. He is the father of one and has recently proposed to that pretty little girl's mother. I've known them both for some time and they are both wonderful people. Nestled in the DMV area he is a unique father that may show character traits that you can relate to, but I'll let him reveal that. Without more fluff, here is my conversation with Jerome Hood.

El Único

Hey, Mr. Hood. Congratulations on your engagement. How is it going? How do you feel?

 
Hey my dude, Thanks for choosing me to participate in your new blog series "Dad'n It" I appreciate you taking your time out and considering me. Before I start, what the heck does "Dad'n it" mean?
 
HA!, Well it's a long story on how I got to that name, but It means that if you're killing it as a father (in a good way)...You're "Dad'n it"

Growth and Engagement

You're weird man!
 
Well, the engagement, let's see....it's going well thus far. Prior to my engagement my fiance and I had been together for a little bit over 6 years. As any couple, we had our ups and downs in our relationships. We had our doubts about getting married, our arguments and feuds. I think what lead me to finally get my act together was seeing my daughter every day getting older and wiser and not wanting to fall into that statistic of a child growing up in a broken home. It took me a while to finally propose due to my immaturity. I would often question myself if I was ready enough to take that next step. After a while, it became more of an excuse on not to get married rather than a doubt. So I finally manned up and took that next step and proposed to my fiance, Brittany Dawson.
 
Your right, hurdles are a common element of relationships. What would you say is the key to getting through the fits and starts you and Brittany have had through the years? 
 
I think the most important key to our relationship is Balance. We really take pride in giving each other space and not always down each other back.

Reflection on One's Self

I've known you for many years but it was 10 years ago when we really connected. When I look back at the Hood I knew I'm not sure if I recognize that man. What do you see in Jerome from back then?
 
Yes, (chuckles) when we first met back in maybe 2005 I want to say. I was definitely a young kid from Jersey just trying to find his way. When we first met, I can honestly say I didn't really know my purpose in life. After spending as I would call it the "Pivotal" time in my 20's in Virginia, I really became the man that I am today. It's been a long journey; however, I would not trade it for anything in the world. I've grown so much as an individual. Joining the Men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was a great decision in many ways. One that stands out for me is how our relationship grew. I truly believe people are placed in your life for a reason. I always watched and listened to my peer's. You and I would have convo's about different things that were going on in our live's and it really helped me put things into perspective. As time progressed, there were no more baggy pants, no more indulging in immature activity or hanging with the wrong crowd. I always knew I wanted to leave a legacy behind, it seems to be going in the right direction.

"...save my college refund check"

Yeah, I remember the crew you had coming in your freshman year. It was definitely a Jersey thing. You seemed more tense about life back then. What advice would you give 2005 Jerome?
 
Yes, I was definitely tensed back then and always on edge. I think just growing up in Jersey I've always wanted to be aware of my surroundings. It taught me always to be on my P's and Q's and never get caught slipping. I guess which essentially would lead me to always be tense. The advice I would give my 2005 Jerome, would be to save my college refund check haha!

New Jersey and You

You grew up in New Jersey. What about your hometown shaped the person you see in the mirror today?
 
Well, I'm from Somerville New Jersey. That place taught me so much. I've always had a great support system growing up. I really feel like that helped shape me into the person I am today. Growing up, there were not many success stories coming from my neighborhood. I knew I wanted to beat the odds and set goals for myself at a young age.

Goals

Really what sort of goals?
 
The first goal was to get up out of Jersey! Gang violence, drugs, and stupid activity, all that was common growing up in an urban community. Creating my legacy was important and I knew I had to leave New Jersey to do it. Leaving and attending Virginia State University was one of the best decisions in my life. I wanted to use that opportunity to help change the status quo in my community, to show cats that college was a cool place to go you know? You didn't have to drop out of school and sell drugs.

Giving Back

You hear a story like this all the time. It is sort of like unless you're truly awake, the system will drag you down. Deciding to not get dragged yourself, did you feel as though you could lift others up as well?
 
Over the years while attending State, I realized that I had a duty to give back to my neighborhood. For almost 10 years now, in summer I throw a Back to school event where we give away over 500 book bags to families in need. It's become this big event now where people look forward to it every year. People really look up to me there as if I'm some famous athlete or celebrity because I've always given back and never forgot where home is. But again that just goes back to my statement before of having that support from my hometown and family. Jersey now?  I love it there! It taught me to hustle, how to be a man, and that I can overcome any obstacle that life may throw at me.
 
I've always admired that part of you. I remember sending you some supplies one year. I should have nine more donations in my book for you. I'll try to make that up to you.

The Little Tike

Let's talk about your daughter and your fiancée. Tell me about baby girl?
 
My daughter is 4 years old and I just love her to death. I believe she was a blessing in disguise that God has sent me. She teaches me so much about myself every day. Being a father is great. My father was in my life growing up and unfortunately, I've seen what can happen if a child is raised without their father. I vowed that I will be in my child's life no matter what. If I couldn't wake up to see my daughter, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'm humbled by her daily. I think the most important thing she's taught me and changed is my perspective on life.

How is the Lady?

Your girl is cute as heck man. Parenting with Brittany, what parts of her personality influences your family dynamic?
 
Damn is Brittany a great mother. She has taught me so much, as a result, she's done a tremendous job polishing me into the man I am today. I had some pretty rough edges, feel me. She always takes credit for it but one of my favorite things I love to do is travel. When me and her hooked up together, I really began to travel the world and seeing different things. She likes to call say she's "Upgrading" me, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love everything about her and what she represents. She has my back with whatever I have going on.
 
Sounds like a special woman. I'm happy for your future with her man. Speaking of "going on" I want to switch the topic to your professional life.

Professional Life

What have you been up to?
 
Professionally, I own two companies. Bridging The Gap Family Services and Guiding Light Residential Services. Bridging The Gap Family Services is a mental health company servicing at-risk youth adolescents and mentally challenged adults. We're located in Virginia and have locations in Manassas, Richmond & Norfolk. Guiding Light Residential Services is a residential program where we house adults who are transitioning back into society. There are a few other business ventures I'm exploring as well. I am blessed. I do my best to take nothing for granted.

Lasting Impact

Keeping a record of your fortunes rather than your misfortunes is a healthy way to navigate life. You service the at-risk or mentally challenged. Is there a time where an interaction with a client really affected you? You know, left a profound impact on you in that moment?
 
Oh definitely, being in the mental health field made me realize that they're always someone who has it harder, or that may be going through something worse than myself. Sometimes I would think I had it rough growing up. One story I remember, it was 2009 I believe and I was working at this school in Richmond, VA. I was a one-on-one counselor with kids who had behavioral issues at this elementary school. There was a young girl maybe 8-9 years old. She was an accomplished troublemaker. Principles and all the teachers knew her lol.

...who is she to listen to anyone?

 
Well, one day, the class had a substitute teacher and the young girl was giving the teacher a hard time. Towards the end of the day, the teacher gave the young girl a directive and she was not compliant. The teacher asked the young girl, "why don't you ever listen to anything an adult has to say?".  The young girl stated that she watches her 2 brothers, she feeds them, bathes them and takes care of her household..who is she to listen to anyone? No lie I almost shed a tear hearing the young girl! After that moment, I knew I wanted to remain in this field of work. We really don't know what these young kids have going on in their lives. Therefore, we automatically assume that they're naturally defiant, however, we never take the time to see the deeper issue. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
 
I totally understand that perspective of that young lady. Far too many times than not, kids who go through situations like that don't make it out the other side in a positive way. I hope that her fortune has changed for the better. 
 
Thank you for investing your time in this interview. It has been a great experience, Jerome. 
 
 
Did you like this interview? If so please tell us why below in the comment section, and don't forget to subscribe. 
 
 
 
Categories: Family Life

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