A Lifetime of Gramercy 2

Darol Rodrock

Darol Rodrock is a great autobiography in the making. In hearing his story, one would experience all the sentiments expected from an extraordinarily written, emotionally charged novel doused with deep feelings of love and compassion. It would speak of a troubled past and moments of disappointment, but it would also illustrate remarkable people and rewarding capstones. But Darol Rodrock is so much more than his story. He is a man who’s dedicated his life to building communities of families, promoting agape love, and inspiring others to live out their passions.

Not many people have mastered the art of turning disenchantment into a lifetime of charity and diligence, and Darol Rodrock’s beginnings were less than humble. It was riddled with abuse, family imprisonment, and moments of despondency. As Rodrock speaks with intensity about the events in his life that have inspired him, he doodles pages of triangles, boxes, and intricate lines. Sprinkled within these doodles are meaningful numbers; 12 to represent the age in which he was paired with an influential foster family, 73 the percentage of foster males end up with a police record, or 40 the percentage of recent foster child increase in the state of Kansas. It is a physical testament of how Rodrock’s mind is a combination of intelligent complexity and life-defining experiences.

He credits his love of people from a variety of sources: a flamboyant reverend who told him at the age of 10 that Jesus loved him, a fourth grade teacher who showed him through her actions and the words of the Bible that this was true, and his last foster family who, despite his past, believed in him and encouraged him to be even greater than even he could have imagined. Rodrock has made a conscious effort to become the person he feels he was destined to be, and this meant he had to inspire himself not to fall into the traps of life that make success an ongoing, uphill mêlée. He challenges others to be like a “pogo stick” and to look at failures as “short-term interruptions” and get back on their desired path and keep going.

He’s most certainly lived by this mantra. Only 2% of children in foster care make it to college, and only 1% of those graduate. Yet Rodrock defied the odds by not only graduating college but also earning a Master’s degree, as well. Upon graduation, he became a teacher and a coach, wanting to inspire students and instill within them a sense of worth and purpose. He did so through positive modeling, helping them understand the gifts they’ve been given, and encouraging them to share their gifts with others.

Yet developing self esteem in young lives was not the only handiwork Rodrock was undertaking. During his summers, he built homes as a way to better provide for his growing family. His eye for detail and demand for a job well done helped his side business flourish, and in 1977 he left education to pursue this career fulltime.

But Rodrock’s big plans quickly stretched beyond just constructing houses. He discovered a passion for cultivating a sense of true community through carefully planned neighborhoods. Taking cues from his childhood search for a loving home, he began fashioning entire developments with an emphasis on family-friendly elements. Rodrock recognized he was building memories for families, and that resonates in every step of planning—including pools, walking trails, playground areas, and the Rodrock Moms’ Council. This committee successfully fosters the ideals of family with planned neighborhood events and activities for all to partake. Today Rodrock has 84 thriving communities, and within each and every one his vision is evident.

At the age of 70, Rodrock decided it was time to make one of his life’s dreams a tangible mission, and The Darol Rodrock Foundation was formed. It is his reverie to develop housing for young people who age out of the foster-care system once they turn 18. Unfortunately, at this time these young kids are no longer eligible to receive assistance from the state, which means funds afforded to foster families ends. Prematurely forced out into the world, many find themselves without the skills needed to survive, without anyone to turn to. Sadly, many end up on the streets.

To date, the Darol Rodrock Foundation has supplied college funds, given monetary gifts, and provided educational opportunities as well as rich experiences for hundreds of foster children. Rodrock hopes to raise $5 million dollars to build housing that will help provide foster children with life skills and discipline needed to experience triumph within a system that often deals out failure. He hopes that by raising awareness, children in foster care will have increased odds of success.

Darol Rodrock is a man that truly believes we can change the world through love. He trusts that if people continue to inspire others, a thriving community is inevitable. By taking an “I can, and I will” approach to life, children in foster care can prosper beyond their wildest dreams. He believes it takes ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and Rodrock challenges all of us to be the one to do the extraordinary things in their life.

Be inspired, share the love, and give unconditionally. It’s as simple as that.