KAILUA-KONA — As a child, Caleb Milliken built a birdhouse with his father. Today, he recalls the deep sense of pride he got from an experience that has stuck with him over the years.
“At the time it wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “But I remember that. I remember standing there holding this thing that I built with my dad, and I was just so proud.”
Milliken, now a father of two, said he wants his kids to have similar experiences and have something that will represent the same confidence and self-esteem the birdhouse meant for him.
On Saturday, he came with his kids to the Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island’s ReStore, where the organization hosted a free do-it-yourself clinic for fathers and their kids.
“One day they’re going to look back and they’re going to remember this moment, that thing that they built and everything that went along with it that made them the functioning human beings that they grow up to be,” Milliken said. “You can hold this thing up and, internally, your memory, everything inside of you is reminding you of ‘Oh, this is my dad.’”
The event was hosted by Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island in partnership with the Hawaii State Commission on Fatherhood, of which Milliken is a member representing Hawaii Island.
Amanda MacIntosh, community relations coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Hawaii Island, said the event aligns with their own mission.
“Habitat works a lot off of ‘The home is a place where you make memories and spend time with your family,’” she said. “So dads spending time with their kids and building something and being creative is just another way that you make those memories.”
The organization hosted two sessions during the day. In the first, families built grill utensil racks, while the afternoon session offered a do-it-yourself wood photo transfer workshop.
Eoin Mast brought his daughter Alana, 9, and son Daniel, 8, to the morning session.
“They love doing crafts,” he said of his kids, noting they regularly take part in similar events at The Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Mast said he’s a strong believer in the idea that children are reflections of their parents and said events like Saturday’s help strengthen the bond between parents and their kids.
“Life’s not easy,” he said, “and any help people can get to try to help give good guidance and good activities for the children is appreciated.”
Both Alana and Daniel said they enjoyed having a chance to spend the day building a utensil rack with their dad.
“I like it,” Daniel said. “I think it’s cool to actually do it for Father’s Day, like some people recognize it.”
Alana said she enjoys building things and spending time with her father, and both children agreed it was important for the community to organize events for Father’s Day.
“Because you can spend more time with your father,” Alana said.
The day was made possible through a grant from the Commission on Fatherhood.
Milliken said this year was the first time the commission awarded funds for Father’s Day events, awarding four grants in total.
It’s important that events like this are hosted in the community, he said, citing the crucial importance of children spending time with their father.
“Because so many people’s best memories of their father is when they’re going fishing, they learn how to fish or they learn how to build something or they did something with their hands — really different than the relationship they have with their mom,” he said. “And it’s not that one’s better or worse than the other, it’s just to really, really get through to everybody involved how important dads are.”
Milliken said the commission, which is tasked with advising the government on legislation that supports fathers, also wants to be a clearinghouse for information, funds and resources that help support fathers across the state.
The Commission on Fatherhood will hold a public meeting in Kailua-Kona from 2-4 p.m. on June 29 at Honua Studios.
The meeting will be an opportunity to provide testimony about issues affecting fathers and give input on how the commission can advise the government on those issues.