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James Byrum Named "2013 Male Role Model of the...

by Keri Brenner (Editor, Napa Valley Patch)

James Byrum, a volunteer who works with Napa-area children who are victims of sexual abuse, was named "Male Role Model of the Year" at an awards luncheon Friday.

"I learned growing up that sexual assault is something we talk about," said Byrum, who was chosen out of a field of 15 nominees in the male role model category.

About 120 people attended the Seventh Annual "Men Making NEWS" awards luncheon Friday at the Napa Elks Club. Event sponsor NEWS, or Napa Emergency Women's Services, works with all victims of domestic abuse and/or sexual assault. 

"Coming from an agency that traditionally sees the darker side of what is primarily men's violence against women, we want to bring attention to the fact that most men are good, and the importance of role models," said Tracy Lamb, executive director of NEWS. "What these men do is emulate for others, what men can do to improve lives and create healthy families and community'

Oscar Lagunas, a soccer coach who started a co-ed team for families, won in the "Father of the Year" category out of a field of six nominees. Luis Torres, a participant in the Napa VOICES program who has overcome severe adversity as a child, was chosen "Young Man of the Year" out of three nominees.

Master of ceremonies was Napa City Councilman Alfredo Pedroza.

"Any man can be a role model," he said. "It's a choice we make."

Keynote speaker was Ian Stanley, a youth minister, bilingual teacher, organizer of the LGBTQ Connection Napa and the "2012 Male Role Model of the Year."

Stanley said the definition of what it means to be a man was expanding to include more of what author Dr. Brené Brown calls "whole-hearted living," Stanley said.

"There are 10 guideposts listed by Dr. Brown for whole-hearted living," Stanley said. "These are about creating connection and acting in a loving way toward others."

Stanley said two of the 10 guideposts are: Cultivating authenticity; and cultivating intuition and trusting faith.

"We have to let go of what people think," he said. "We also have to be OK with uncertainty."

Byrum praised the other nominees in the ceremony and also thanked all the women who supported the men in their lives.

"Nobody is perfect," he said. "We as males need that encouragement from women."

See Napa Valley Patch article HERE.