Wednesday, 11 March 2015 11:57

Rock Solid Refuge hosting John Chick at fundraising banquet

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive lineman John Chick will be the guest speaker at the 6th annual banquet and auction fundraiser for Rock Solid Refuge in Swift Current on March 28.


Rock Solid Refuge is a faith-based program that provides support in a structured environment for teenage boys who are struggling with life-controlling issues.
Rock Solid Refuge Executive Director Dallas Block said the presence of John Chick at this year’s banquet will be a real highlight of the event.
“We’re super excited that John Chick is willing to come and be a part of the evening with us there and to help us promote what Rock Solid is doing,” he mentioned.
Chick will be playing his sixth season with the Roughriders after he signed a contract extension with the team last month that will keep him in Saskatchewan through the 2016 season.
The 32-year-old player is a two-time Grey Cup champion with the Roughriders in 2007 and 2013. Last year he made a career-high 45 defensive tackles and he led the Canadian Football League (CFL) with 15 quarterback sacks.
He was named a CFL All-Star at the end of the season and he was the Roughriders nominee as most outstanding player and most outstanding defensive player.
According to Block it is only the second time that Rock Solid Refuge will have a prominent sports personality as guest speaker at their annual banquet.
“We had Wes Cates as our guest speaker quite a few years ago,” he said. ”We’ve had others that have been involved in drug rehabilitation centres or things like that. Wes Cates and John Chick are the highest profile sports people, but we’ve had other people that are known in other circles.”
The annual banquet is one of many fundraisers organized by Rock Solid Refuge during the year, but it also helps to raise the organization’s profile in the community.
“The purpose of the banquet is for fundraising but it also has a purpose of just making people aware as well of what we are doing,” he said. “So getting people like John Chick in hopefully will attract some people to come that maybe wouldn’t come otherwise. It has a great purpose of not just raising funds that night, but of raising awareness of who Rock Solid is, what we do, where we’re located and really continuing to grow the awareness and support of Rock Solid in southwest of Saskatchewan.”
Rock Solid Refuge was founded as a non-profit charity in 2005. It is located on a 60 acre property about 50 miles southwest of Swift Current and about 21 miles northeast of Shaunavon, where it provides a 12- to 15-month residential program to 13- to 18-year-old male teenagers.
Block believes it is still necessary to increase awareness in the community about the program and its benefits to participants.
“I continue to come across quite a few people in the southwest of Saskatchewan and the Swift Current area especially that either haven’t heard of Rock Solid at all, or maybe have heard the name because something have been advertised on the radio or something like that, but they really don’t have a clue what it’s about,” he said. “So the awareness part is still really, really important.”
It started as a summer program in 2007, but has evolved into a year-round program since 2010. There are currently 10 students in the program, but the facility has beds for 16 participants.
“We like to function normally between 12 and 14 students and that’s what’s we’re continuing to work up towards,” he said. “Ten is pretty normal for us.”
The facility has a staff component of around 20 staff who are responsible for a variety of tasks.
“We take care of the young people 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “We got everything from kitchen staff to maintenance to directors to office staff and classroom staff. ... So it’s quite a wide range of staff that is needed to do what we do.”
The construction of an on-site staff house is currently taking place and the next project will be a gymnasium facility for the students. Another priority is to add more resources to their education department.
“We are a fully accredited independent school and we fall under the authority of the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan,” he said. “In order to maintain a high level of education we need resources to do that. ... It takes a lot of resources to run a school program and so people investing in that is a really big part of investing in the future of these young people that are here.”
Rock Solid Refuge operates on an annual budget of around $1 million, of which about 75 per cent is fundraised.
“We appreciate the reality that we are recognized as a qualified accredited independent school but still it’s a small part of our overall budget,” he said.
The program provides holistic support to students and they receive life skills that will be beneficial for years to come.
“We’re an alternative approach to traditional treatment and a big part of that is that we feel it’s essential that we take the time to address the whole person and not just targeted specifically at their addiction or whatever their life-controlling issue is,” he said. “They need to become mature, well-adjusted, healthy as a whole person in order to really move forward in a healthy way as a member of society.”
The faith-based program at Rock Solid Refuge aims to address the mental, spiritual and emotional needs of students. The support provided to students will start from the moment they arrive at the facility.
“One of the things that we want them to pick up very quickly when they come here is that the people here care,” he said. “We don’t want it to come across to the students that we’re just here as a part of our careers. The reason why we’ve chosen this kind of work is because we do actually care about people. ... We want them to come to understand that fairly quickly because that helps them relax, helps them recognize that this is a safe place.”
The 6th annual Rock Solid Refuge banquet and auction fundraiser will take place at the Credit Union iplex in Swift Current on March 28. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. with coffee and punch, and dinner will be served at 6 p.m.
To sponsor the event or to purchase tickets, visit the Rock Solid Refuge website at www.rocksolidrefuge.com or contact the office at 306-297-3663. Tickets are $50 each and also available at Pharmasave and Photoworks in Swift Current.

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