Talk about father of the year!
Brooklyn native, Guy Bryant, has fostered over 50 young men in the last 12 years. The 61 year old works as a community coordinator for New York City’s Administration for Children’s services, helping young people who have aged out of the foster care system. It was that work that brought him to becoming a foster parent himself.
In an interview with Huffpost, Bryant reflects on his childhood which he feels influenced who he is today. He grew up in Brooklyn with his mom and aunts all under one roof. Bryant and his cousins were always running around the house along with other kids from the neighborhood and they were always doing something in the community.
“There’s definitely a connection. My family was always willing to help other people. Especially one of my aunts. She was on a community board. So if there was a youth in trouble, she would always try to help him,” Bryant told HuffPost.
His career began some 40 years ago when he worked as an educational assistant in New York. He went on to become a house parent at an all boys group home in Queens before finding himself working in his current position, where he’s been for the last 32 years, assisting 18-21 year olds in their transition out of the foster care system, by providing housing, employment, mental and physical health services.
In 2007, one of the young men Bryant was working with asked if he could take him in. He agreed and before he knew it, he had 9 boys living with him. Becoming a foster parent wasn’t an easy decision, and Bryant admits he had some hesitation. “Some of my fears were this: People say, ‘Why is this man doing this?’ People always think you have ulterior motives, not understanding who I am,” he said.
Bryant says the most important thing in fostering children is building that trust and rapport with them. He said, “the [most] difficult thing about building trust is their past interactions with adults. They constantly need to be reinforced that ‘I am here. I am going to do what I say.’ My kids will tell you whatever I say, I’m going to do for you. I always do it because I don’t want you to look at me like one of those adults who let you down.”
His goal is to just create a safe space for these children and provide them with a loving and supportive home. Bryant spends time with the boys, planning fishing trips, cooking with them, and just being the person they can count on.
“The Mr. Bryant approach is I love you regardless,” he told HuffPost. “You could become a brain surgeon or you could be a bathroom cleaner — it doesn’t matter. Once you come into my home and you’ve been with me and you’ve been here, you’re my kid for life… You’ll always have a bed to come to, a shower to take — you’ll always be able to come home. This is home.”
We’re not crying. You’re crying. The world needs more Mr. Bryants.
Photo: HuffPost screenshot