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Fathers and father figures want to be present, caring, and nurturing – like most parents – and find ways to connect with their children or children in their care through a range of activities and moments. For Father’s Day, we asked staff to reflect on their favorite memory with their fathers/father figures, and what we heard were stories of connection, curiosity, love, openness, playfulness, and deep commitment. What is your favorite memory with your father or father figure?

“My dad always saved the best part of the chicken – the wings – for me and my sister.”

–May-Mei Lee

Clara Alemann, Equimundo’s Director of Programs, with her father.
“When I was around 6 I was afraid that monsters would creep from under my bed at night. Bedtime was a scary time and my father, every night when he wasn’t traveling, patiently and tenderly helped me search under the bed and behind doors to make sure no one was hiding in the darkness. He then sat beside my bed, took a while in silence to invent a new episode of his story series, “The witch and the fairy” and then narrated it to me. He made me forget all my fears and follow the adventures of the idealistic and kind fairy and the mischiefs of the witch. I will always remember that tradition and his caring and soothing storytelling.”

–Clara Alemann




“One of my dad’s hallmarks was his ability to make play seem very, very serious. For example, he loved autumn days in Ohio. A blustery one, where the sinew connecting stem to branch is just about to wear away. He invented a game called leaf-catching. It’s as simple as it sounds – go outside and catch the leaves falling. First to twenty leaves, wins. It was a delightful way to spend an afternoon. His focus on play was a direct response to his profession, as a professor of international relations, where he regularly studied war, politics, history’s bad actors. Play and joy were throughlines in his life, all the way until the end. Even as dementia robbed him of language and mobility, the sound of a distant train would make him clap his hands and say “I love that!” Upon seeing geese in the sky, he would excitedly point, eyes as big as saucers – our eyes following his finger, until we found them, which would bring a huge grin to his face. My dad taught me to value play – to embrace curiosity, to find humor in the little moments – to take play seriously. To lay aside our sense of self, shed time’s continuum – and be joyful.”

–Chris Hook


José Campi Portaluppi, Equimundo’s Director of Communications and Advocacy, with his grandfather.
“My grandfather, Yoyito, retired just as I was born. He hadn’t been the most present dad or the greatest husband to my grandma. But as he was figuring out what it meant to grow older, not having a job to go to every morning and many other things, he decided that he would come to my school every day and read me and all of the other kids stories. He quickly became my favorite person in the world – he taught me by example that people can change and that we all can find purpose through care.”

–José Campi-Portaluppi





“My dad and I can spend hours talking. And that is what I love the most. Anytime I call him, it goes beyond an hour. One of my favorite memories as a young adult is having ‘chai’ (Indian tea) with him in the morning. Mornings would be quiet and he always made tea for me and then we would sit on the sofa and talk. We still do that when we meet. I feel like he is the only man I know who can actually emotionally connect and have a fair and non-judgmental conversation with. We talk about everything from a new recipe I tried, to political developments around the world, what relatives are talking about, work trips, the price of onions, a memory from his childhood, a wedding he attended, antibiotics, a book I read, a religious talk he heard, and ideas like humanism and of course, capitalism! He is perhaps the only person I can talk to about anything!”

–Isha Bhatnagar

Gary Barker, Equimundo President and CEO, with his father.


“One of my last trips with my father before he had dementia, which he eventually passed away from, was to Cambodia where we explored the temple sites together. I remembered all the times he was the one leading me on adventures when I was a boy. And I remember the trips he took my daughter Nina on when she was young and how much they adored each other. I hope I carry on his curiosity and his generous engagement with everyone he met.”

–Gary Barker




“My favorite memory with my dad is his playfulness with me and my sister when we were younger. Most weekends, we would have “sleepouts” in the living room with pillow-constructed forts. We’d watch TV into [what felt like] the wee hours of the morning and of course a bowl of ice cream was always a must. It was such a treat for us growing up and we’d always look forward to those evenings full of laughing and fun together.”

–Cody Ragonese

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