Now In Its Sixth Year, the Volunteer Organization Has A Far-Reaching Effect In South Pasadena

Dads Uniting Dads in Education group photo
South Pasadena D.U.D.E.S. at their annual “Camden Classic” fundraiser last October. It is a day-long event that features competitions including an egg toss, dodgeball, paint ball duels and liar’s dice. Courtesy photo

Just six years after Jeff Kirschenbaum hatched the idea of getting a few fellow South Pasadena school fathers together, D.U.D.E.S. – which stands for Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service – has become nothing short of a community phenomenon.

“One day, Jeff said to me, ‘I got this thing called D.U.D.E.S., are you in?’” said Ed Donnelly, one of the original six. “I said ‘yeah – whatever it is, I’m in!’”

“Whatever it is” is still being determined, but its boundaries are almost endless. Within six months, D.U.D.E.S. expanded from a half dozen members to over 300 and continues to expand. Its mission statement claims that it is “a charitable organization that harnesses the energies of South Pasadena families in order to develop camaraderie and service resulting in better educational facilities and resources for South Pasadena Schools.”

“It’s fairly loosely run,” said Donnelly. “We don’t really go out looking for things to do as much as we react to requests. A PTA might need someone to help set up chairs. Something as simple as that.”

D.U.D.E.S. has repaved the Marengo playground, annually holds what they call its annual Camden Classic Sports Day fundraiser, holds a popular poker tournament at the War Memorial and this past fall, put on an Oktoberfest that attracted approximately 500 people.

Everything served at the traditional German feast was handmade by the D.U.D.E.S. and benefitted the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. The event was held in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce Art Walk.

“It was another way for us to build community, to bring people together,” said Donnelly, voicing what could be considered an addendum to the mission statement.

Other D.U.D.E.S. events benefit the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the South Pasadena Middle School Booster Club and South Pasadena Education Foundation, just to name a few.

“We are all about supporting other organizations in the community,” said Donnelly. “And to build camaraderie among fathers. So much of what guys were doing involved coaching sports. We were just looking for a way to get the dads together. If you make it fun, they will show up. It isn’t rocket science. If the guys are having a good time, they will show up.”

The D.U.D.E.S. also have a popular role in the annual 4th of July Parade.

“We do a dance and a skit and I am not sure if being goofy on Mission Street translates the message that we are a service organization, but that is probably the most visible thing we do. We’re still here, still doing good work and still having fun.”

For more information about D.U.D.E.S visit there website here, http://southpasdudes.com/.

Mitch Lehman
Author

With over 22 years in publishing and a long time local, Mitch Lehman is a frequent contributor to the South Pasadena Review and Quarterly magazine. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in 2016, Mitch won 5 awards in the California Newspaper Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest.

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