There's plenty of work to be done and more money to be raised, but "The Rock" will soon return. Larry Stenson, executive director of Minot's Youth For Christ, said the board recently made the decision to rebuild the facility damaged by the 2011 flood.
The Rock was visited by about 120 Youth For Christ members each week prior to the historic flood. The high water mark on the building was above the front door. Even though much of the building's contents were removed, the loss was extensive.
"We lost all of our walls. Everything had to be taken out," said Stenson. "It was gutted, even the back staircase."
Larry Stenson, executive director of Minot’s Youth For Christ, says he hopes “The Rock” will be open again in May of next year. The building is undergoing repairs after suffering extensive damage in the 2011 flood.
The building's foundation and outside walls came through the flood with a minimum amount of damage, making reconstruction possible. Knowing that renovation would be expensive, Youth For Christ searched for other properties. In the end, the decision was made to return to The Rock.
"We are actually going back in. Nothing really came up to move into," said Jamie Schwartz, Youth For Christ secretary.
"The board gave us the okay," added Stenson. "Financially this is the best location for us. It is a good location, just two blocks off Broadway. On the downside we've lost Ramstad as a neighbor. Ramstad Middle School was the source of a lot of kids for us."
The Rock is located at 318-5th Ave. NW. The now vacated Ramstad school grounds is less than a block away. Some homes in the neighborhood have been rebuilt or are in the process of reconstruction. Others remain virtually untouched since the 2011 flood.
"We want to be a great neighbor and give encouragement to this neighborhood," said Stenson. "We don't know what the neighborhood is going to look like in five or six years. We don't know what the Ramstad Middle School site will do. We know we are going to have to rebuild our numbers even after we get back in The Rock."
With their building in ruins, Youth For Christ moved their office from The Rock to First Baptist Church. Stenson said First Baptist has been "very gracious," but acknowledged that after a year and a half it was time to find a permanent home. Meetings have been held in the music room at Jim Hill Middle School but participation has dwindled to fewer than 50. Stenson hopes a rebuilt Rock will encourage growth.
"The flood affected us. A lot of our older kids that were active when the flood hit haven't been around much. We now have a big group of sophomores that will be our future as we come back into The Rock. They'll do some outreach for us," said Stenson.
A few businesses have donated help or materials, or both, to the rebuilding of The Rock. Total reconstruction has been estimated at $205,000. Youth For Christ has raised $68,000. If one or more grant requests are successful, the amount of money needed to complete the project will continue to shrink. Other sources of funding may follow.
"We have a couple of potentially big gifts that could come our way soon. Lots of people have stepped up and helped us. We've never borrowed a cent on this building, and we think it would be God-honoring to try and do this project this way," said Stenson. "We're hoping some people will make a year-end gift to Youth For Christ that would help us."
The main floor of the old Rock resembled a 1960s gasoline station, complete with a gas pump and traffic lights. The meeting room was called the "filling station." The downstairs was in the process of getting a new look when the flood hit, including the recent installation of $2,800 in new floor covering.
"We wanted to create a place where kids could come. We made it a cool place. The downstairs was 90 percent completed with a cafe, kitchen and game room area. It was really nice looking. We got out everything we could, but we lost a lot," said Stenson.
With the building gutted, the new Rock will undergo some improvements. Among other changes, a set of bathrooms will be added to the main floor, new heating and lighting will be installed, the ceiling will be raised and a handicap accessible entrance will be added.
The exterior will receive improvements too. Some work is needed on the stucco finish. New paint will be applied. Landscape work will be done to further dress up the appearance of the building. The signature rock that bears the name of the facility will be brought to life in a bright way.
"That rock never moved," noted Stenson. "We've got an electrician that says he'll get a light on that."
The target date for completion is next May. Stenson expressed optimism that the additional $132,000 needed for renovation will be raised by that time.
The Rock is situated on the location of the original Church of God in Minot. The initial facility was underground only, basically a covered foundation. Several years later the structure above ground was added. Youth For Christ purchased the church in 1998 at a cost of $20,000.
"We believe the kids in our town don't have enough offered to them," explained Stenson. "There's a lot of good things and certainly there's no excuse for kids not to find something to do. Our goal is to share the message of Christ."
An upcoming activity involving Youth For Christ is "Living End," an event that will be held at Minot's All Seasons Arena on New Year's Eve. Several church groups will be taking part. The event is scheduled for 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. A variety of activities, including ice skating and a hot meal, are planned.
"We're hoping for about 150 kids," said Stenson. "The cost is $5, but if a kid can't afford it, just come. All are welcome regardless. Give us a call at 839-4660."