The Men’s Center of Los Angeles held its second Men’s Community of Support Day at the University Student Union’s Grand Salon Room on Sept. 24.
Before the event took place, Matt Lafave, graduate student in special education, said he was eager to attend.
“This will be my first retreat that I’ll be going to with the Men’s Center,” Lafave said. “I’m looking forward to meeting all the brothers and (being) able to share stories with a lot of the people.” The retreat was organized for men so that they could share the problems and anxieties they go through in their lives. The retreat helps men realize that they are not alone in the struggles they deal with, according to Ivor Weiner, director of the CSUN Family Focus Resource and Empowerment Center, which co-sponsored the event.
After Weiner attended a different Men’s Center retreat in Malibu in Spring 2005, he said he felt a great change in his life.
“I felt rejuvenated after that day,” Weiner said. “I realized that I wasn’t alone in the struggles I was dealing with in life.”
The retreat allowed men to talk about issues deeper than what is superficial, Weiner said. The men focus on looking within themselves and how to communicate with each other.
“We first open up the day with some Native American ceremonies. We have drums laid out, and the men are free to do some drumming during that time,” said Stephen Johnson, founder of the Men’s Center of Los Angeles and the Sacred Path Men’s Community. The men then take some time to meditate, followed up by a brief presentation about the challenges men face and the solutions to them, Johnson said.
“What I like the most about the community time we share at the end is seeing what other men have to say,” Weiner said. “You can see that the struggles they all share are real.”
After lunch, the men gathered in a circle to have community time, Johnson said, when a talking stick was passed around.
“Some people who have not attended the retreat think we bash on women during this community time we have,” Weiner said. “We don’t bash on women at all. We focus more on the stress we all share, and try to become stronger by dealing with it and letting everyone know that they’re not alone.”
The aim for the location of this event is to get more students from CSUN to attend and get involved, Weiner said. It was Weiner’s idea to bring the Men’s Center of Los Angeles onto campus, and Johnson agreed to it.
Weiner added that at first he was reluctant to attend his first retreat, but added that he was exhausted and he needed a boost. After he attended the retreat, he said he felt rejuvenated.
“It’s a good blend of fun and gaining a perspective on the problems that men share. While it’s only a one day retreat, I hope that the people who attend it will be encouraged into signing up for our five day retreats,” Johnson said.
Mark Solleza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.