Stronger Families + Educated Minds + Economic Power = Better Communities
The Founder and President of MEF is Judge Mablean Ephriam, who presided over the Fox television show, Divorce Court from 1999-2006. She is a mother of four, grandmother of nine. She was born in Mississippi and raised in South Central Los Angeles. She has been in the practice of law for over thirty years. Judge Mablean founded MEF as an outgrowth of her personal and professional experiences. She is keenly aware of the alarming rate of illiteracy, the declining quality of our educational system, especially the inner-city schools, the lack of adequate and affordable housing, the high rate of unemployment, the dissipation of the family and declining moral values. She became fed-up with the increased rate of fatherless homes, due to imprisonment, divorce, unwanted pregnancies, drug abuse and suicide, especially in African-American and Latino-Hispanic families. She witnessed the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, the advantaged and disadvantaged. Therefore, she decided to do something to address these conditions and hopefully change the circumstances.
In 2003, Judge Mablean decided to host a brunch and awards program to celebrate fathers. She believed that if we accentuated the positive and de-emphasized the negative, more fathers would become involved in the lives of their children, thus strengthening families. Within three months of that decision, she became the founder and host of the Honoring Unsung Fathers (H.U.F.) Awards and Brunch. This inaugural brunch was held June 15, 2003 in San Pedro, California at the Hilton Marina Hotel. Eight extraordinary fathers were personally selected by Judge Mablean to receive these inaugural awards. The Committee prepared for 250 attendees. Over 400 individuals came. Some even had to be turned away. Due to the overwhelming support for the event, she then decided to make the H.U.F. Awards and Brunch an annual affair.
Judge Mablean used her own funds for the inaugural H.U.F. Awards and Brunch. However, desiring to expand, she decided to apply for non-profit status in order to seek corporate sponsorship and the financial support of other business leaders who shared her concern for better communities. The Foundation applied for its non-profit status in February, 2004 and was granted the same on May 17, 2004.
Given the enthusiasm of the fathers who received the first awards and their families, Judge Mablean decided to open the nominations to the public to allow mothers, wives, children, co-workers, relatives and friends to nominate a father in their lives who deserved to be honored. In 2004, over 75 applications were received. Nominations are now accepted each year in five standing categories: Solo Warrior (single father), Love Cares (married father), Fatherhood Forever (divorced father), Village Dad (non-biological father) and Living Legacy (the elderly role-model father).
JUDGE MABLEAN ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Judge Mablean has an undeniable passion for bringing awareness to domestic violence and providing preventive solutions to reduce its prevalence. As a victim of psychological and physical abuse in her marriage, Judge Mablean has empathy for the appalling effects these actions have on victims.
During Judge Mablean’s tenure as Prosecuting Attorney for the City Attorney of Los Angeles, she reviewed thousands of cases involving crimes against women by men and frequently these cases were not prosecuted as the victim would request that the charges be dropped. Judge Mablean viewed this as her calling to utilize her influence in the court system to forever change how domestic violent charges were handled in the State of California.
As part of a committee of Lawyers and Judges, she had an influence in drafting the legislation for what is currently known as the Domestic Violence Prevention Act for the State of California. This Act convicts the defendant of a misdemeanor if found guilty and the victim could not contest the charges (is this correct, I could not find year this was implemented). Judge Mablean remained adamant in discovering new solutions to the prevention and intervention of domestic violence. She recommended to the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Court to implement a “diversion program” for the defendants, which would allow the accused to be relived of a conviction if they participate in counseling for a specified period of time and not be involved in any other acts of violence, particularly against the victim.
She made an impact at the grassroots level by co-founding the Family Law Project along with Pasty Ostroy -a colleague in 1982. The program was designed as a legal clinic to provide assistance to women in obtaining restraining orders against their abuser. Judge Mablean dedicated countless hours of volunteer work to sustain the early stages of the organization. This organization continues to focus on prevention of domestic violence and protection against domestic violence under the new name Harriet Buhai Center For Family Law, located in Los Angeles California.
Judge Mablean also assisted in the formation of the Jenessee Center for Domestic Violence, a domestic violence shelter for women. She continues to be an avid supporter and contributor to the Jenessee Center. Continually, she lectures throughout the nation at churches, schools and colleges on the effects, solutions and intervention strategies of domestic violence.
As domestic violence continues to persist and its occurrences are increasing, Judge Mablean – a devoted steward against domestic violence- has welcomed the offer to tour the State of California sharing her experience and expertise on domestic violence. Further, she views the participation of fathers and young men key to prevention measures. She will use her influence in Honoring Unsung Fathers to expand the audience to include both men and women.
Seminars are offered on Domestic Violence Prevention. MEF works closely with the Jenessee Center, a local domestic violence shelter in Los Angeles, to educate the victims of domestic violence on prevention and to educate them on legal remedies available.. MEF works closely with STV America, another local non-profIt organization which offers Domestic Violence Counseling and Classes for domestic violence offenders in a joint effort to educate the offender and to prevent a reoccurrence of domestic violence acts.
To strengthen families: in our communities throughout Los Angeles County, especially Metropolitan and South Central Los Angeles, by providing programs dealing with effective parenting, domestic violence prevention and responsible parenting, especially addressed to fathers.
To provide programs for men and women, to teach them how to become more responsible parents, husbands, wives, and citizens. To sponsor and promote activities, which honor fathers who are responsible parents with an aim toward encouraging other men in the community to be actively involved in the lives of their children, to pay child support, to participate in the health and welfare of their children. To provide mentors and encourage responsible living. To teach moral values, social grace, respect and civic responsibility. To assist economically disadvantaged parents in providing after school programs, and other activities for social development.
To educate minds through the provision of college scholarships, for lower socio-economic and disadvantaged children in Los Angeles County; to prepare our middle school children for college and to be tomorrow’s leaders; tutorial programs; to provide mentors and role models for the youth of the community college; to prepare our youth for college attendance.
To economically empower urban-city families through education and assistance, in first time home ownership, home retention, refinancing, reverse mortgage; banking, investments and savings.