Built on the ROC: Organization lays strong foundation for the youth

Published 12:04 am Saturday, July 2, 2022

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EDGARD — What began as a West Bank Christmas bonfire tradition in 2014 has expanded into a nonprofit organization with a vision of equipping the next generation of leaders with the tools for success.

Through the organization ROC, husband and wife Maurice and Lakisha Rousseve and community leader Donnie Roybiskie build a strong foundation for the youth through a series of programs and activities designed to help young people reach their full potential.

“It started with us doing something in the community around Christmastime to help the community and help the kids. At first it was just family, and then it expanded to the whole street and then moved on to the community,” Lakisha Rousseve said.

The Christmas event, which includes a bonfire lighting, a firework show, and a toy giveaway made possible through partnerships with local businesses, revealed the powerful impact of community involvement.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ROC expanded to include summer programming to provide information, tools and life skills to children. Following Hurricane Ida in 2021, ROC hosted monthly meetings with the youth at the Edgard Library branch so children had something positive to look forward to despite the destruction surrounding their homes and schools.

This past week, ROC hosted its Vision of the Heart Leadership Youth Conference in the West St. John Gymnasium. An interactive Christian rap performance and free snoballs were the cherry on top of the educational event, which featured prominent guest speakers including student-athlete turned business owner Collis Temple III and retired Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, best known for leading relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

“Making sure children have that strong foundation is what the organization is all about,” Rousseve said. “This particular event was geared toward leadership for youth, setting a strong foundation, and the different struggles they may encounter as a leader whether that leadership is with a business, the community, the military or government. We want to provide the tools they need to be successful and show that whatever they dream can be accomplished. It’s possible, it’s attainable, and the barriers can be broken through.”

Temple shared that he always yearned to lead a successful life pursuing something that he was passionate about while making a difference in the lives of others. If someone had asked him how to achieve that vision when he was in college, the NBA would have been his answer.

“Everything in my vision that I wanted, I am blessed to have. It just didn’t come the way I thought it was going to come,” he said.

Temple had great summer league experience and was preparing to go into the developmental basketball league. However, a severe ankle injury set him on another path in life.

Temple pivoted from the basketball arena to the business arena and became a National Sales Director and agency owner with Primerica. He now has a multi-million-dollar net worth.

During this week’s Leadership Youth Conference, Temple told the children to repeat after him and say, “All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.”

Students also learned that when they are met with a fork in the road, the bumpy path that requires a lot of hard work is often the best avenue.

Before he was chosen to lead the nation out of a crisis, General Honoré was a young man who learned from the adults who took the time to speak to him. He encouraged young people to carry a notebook or a tablet with them and take notes when they have the opportunity to receive advice. He also reminded them to remain diligent when it comes to education.

“Leadership starts right where you are in school,” he said. “The first step to leadership is reading. If you can’t read, you can’t comprehend. Once you’ve learned how to read, watch what you read because what you read will define what you think, and what you think will define what you do.”

Honoré told students not to let anyone outwork them, whether they choose to become a bus driver, an astronaut or anything in between.

ROC’s next community event will be a youth academy called SOAR – Leadership with Strong Foundation. While the location is to be announced, SOAR will begin in September and will draw participation from various people and organizations passionate about inspiring the youth. The registration form can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3NmfsC7.

For more information, follow ROC on Facebook (@builtontheroc) or email