ALBANY, Ga. -- Choices and making the right choices for a responsible life without drugs, gangs and violence recurred as a theme throughout the second annual "Male Summit."
The summit dedicated to fatherhood and mentoring began at 10 a.m. with hints of a 12-step sharing experience and a revival meeting.
"I dealt drugs and I was arrested. While I was in jail I found out my girlfriend was pregnant. I was incarcerated when my child was born," said Jason Thomas. "The worst feeling is when you want to do the best for your child and you can't. You are in jail."
He made the wrong choices before his now 3-year-old daughter was born, Thomas said. He changed, accepted responsibility and today he is married with an 8-month-old son.
That message was heard by the hundreds of men and women attending the summit at Gethsemane Worship Center, 520 10th Ave.
There were many cheers and Amens as the speakers encouraged men to not neglect their responsibility when a woman becomes pregnant.
As one woman in the audience said, "It takes two to produce a baby. It takes a mother and a father to raise a child."
The summit also encouraged men to mentor other younger men about taking a responsible place in a family and society.
Donald Hart, founder of Community Builders had words about his own choices. He was in jail during last year's summit and told of his choices. "I made a choice and I ended up in Dougherty County Jail.
We can teach and we can lead but it is up to you to make a choice.
We can receive wise counsel, but we have to make the decision to use the wise counsel."
Sponsored by the Stop the Violence, Parents for a Change and Albany United groups, the summit had many speakers from responsible positions in the community. Among the speakers were Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul, Albany Police Department Chief John Proctor and District Attorney Greg Edwards.