"We're trying to get rid of that image of brownie baking and gossiping girls," Franklin J. Pollard said the other day over lunch at a downtown restaurant. "People need to know that homemaking involves love, leadership, and health in mind and body. It's certainly not just for women only."
Pollard, a soft spoken 16-year-old junior at D.C.'s H.D. Woodson High School, was describing the new philosophy of the Future Homemakers of America, a national youth organization whose representatives recently convened in Seattle and elected him one of their 12 national officers.
"I'm excited," he said about his new position, "It's going to be a real challenge."
Pollard described the Future Homemakers of America as a vocational education organization for high school students of home economics. He said the organization is represented by 12,000 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.
"The FHA," he said, stating the organization's purpose, "establishes programs in health, foods, nutrition and clothing and textiles in schools all over the country. In the past we've concentrated on the high school level, but now we're trying to get more of the programs into elementary schools."
Of the organization's 450,000 members, only about 30,000 are males. Pollard, whose duty as national officer will be to assist in planning home economics programs in schools nationwide and to organize meetings of the organization in the coming year, is the only male among the 12 national officers.
He said his primary concern this year will be to erase what he calls "public misconceptions" about the organization in general and homemaking in particular.
"Anyone who contributes to bonds of love," he said, "is a homemaker, no matter if he or she is married or single, young or old. This year I'm going to try to recruit more males into the FHA, and prove to people that homemaking is for everyone."
Pollard said he joined the D.C. chapter of the Future Homemakers of America last year after enrolling in a foods and nutrition class at school. Shortly thereafter he was elected president of the local chapter, and represented D.C. at the June convention in Seattle.
Pollard, who was one of only 30 male members of the 2,000-member delegation at the convention, said it is hard for him to get used to the "negative reactions" he gets sometimes from people who scoff at his involvement in the organization.
"I've been called a sissy," he said, "but I'm learning not to let what other people say bother me any more. Sooner or later, no matter what line of work you go into, you'll have to know about basic aspects of living, like eating and having clothes. There are always going to be people who don't like what you're into - and will tell you, too - but you've got to learn to ignore them and go your own way."
Pollard, who is also an associate minister at the Sylvan Baptist Church and enjoys sports, cooking, and listening to music, said he plans to attend Howard University after he graduates from high school, and hopes to pursue social work as a career.
"I love learning and helping people," he said. "That's what makes me happy."