Founder of Sold Out Ministries Speaks at BCCF Luncheon
Tickets Available Online and at Door
Despite growing up with a famous name and starting along the same career path as his famous father, Roman Gabriel III has made his mark by helping junior high and senior high school students choose to lead a drug and alcohol free life. Gabriel’s program Sold Out has been implemented in the Brunswick County school system where it’s part of the health and PE curriculum as well as standing on its own through the web and social media. Gabriel will speak about the program and about his life choices at Brunswick Community College Foundation’s annual community luncheon at noon on March 15. Catering is by Angelo’s Restaurant. Tickets to the event are $25 and are available at www.brunswickcc.edu/foundationgiving/events. Sponsorships are also available through the Foundation office.
Born in Wilmington, Gabriel moved with his family to southern California at the age of two. He attended community college at College of the Desert before earning a football scholarship to the University of New Mexico. He credits the smaller college with giving him a chance to grow up emotionally and mentally so that when he went to the much larger university, he was ready to apply himself to his studies. After graduation, he played pro ball until a neck injury took him out of the game. He later coached at Arizona Western College. Through the years, Gabriel said he was very involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes which gave him the opportunity to go to schools, businesses, Indian reservations and other venues to talk about his life and his beliefs. “I had a lot of public speaking opportunities and was very comfortable going to schools and encouraging kids.
After moving back to Wilmington in 1994, he met a friend who asked him to speak at local schools. “I talked to kids about staying off drugs and alcohol and pursuing their dreams,” he said. Over time, he worked for FCA in Arkansas and Kansas where he met many school coaches and administrators. In 2003, he started Sold Out Ministries. “From that came the current program in Brunswick County. I started with the idea in Boone, and it worked out well, so we began to spread out. Through a relationship with local ABC stores, he gained funding. North Carolina is one of sixteen states where local ABC boards provide money for underage alcohol education, he said. “I work closely with them to make relationships because most of these people are integrated into the community and are well versed in the community,” he said of the board members.
The school program has now spread to several states. It is incorporated into the health and PE curriculum as well as character classes. It’s also on the web and on social media so it’s accessible on smart phones. “We engaged students where they like to engage.” Presenters include pop culture icons, military personnel, sports and entertainment celebrities that are alcohol abstinent. While it’s hard to measure the social media impact, he knows about 6000 kids follow them on the website and hundreds of thousands have taken the pledge to abstain. He believes they have reached more than ¼ million students. “We’re able to communicate in the way they like to communicate. It’s cool and short and from people they look up to. They listen,” he said. The program is administered by school personnel. Because it’s computerized, “we can go into the school one time and teach counselors and principals what’s available, and they take it from there.” They also work with local law enforcement and the ABC board to educate adults in the community about the program.
An important piece of the program is encouraging kids to talk with their parents about the abstinence pledge and about any family history of alcohol abuse or addiction. Some families, including his own, have hereditary issues that make addiction much more likely, he said. “The bottle doesn’t care about your dreams and goals.” He commended Brunswick County schools for their commitment to the program. It’s been great working with Jessica Swencki in Brunswick County. She’s committed. So is the superintendent.” Together, they’re working on new elements for the program which may go state-wide if they prove successful here. Gabriel has been busy lobbying legislators in Raleigh to take addiction seriously. “This is a problem that needs to be taken seriously, and we haven’t done that.” Courses in life skills and decision making, and other electives, have been cut from school curricula in favor of teaching just what will be tested, he said. “One of the worst things we can do is cut instruction in character and life skills decisions. Taking tests is important, but being smart without the ability to integrate life skills to make decisions will lead down the path to failure,” he said. Gabriel hopes to discuss the program with the current administration in DC. “We’re interested in taking the program to a national level.”
The Brunswick Community College Foundation, organized in 1982, is a charitable organization 501(c)(3) instituted to enhance the mission of Brunswick Community College to a level of excellence and purpose for students and the community. The Foundation is a vital resource for the acceptance and solicitation of all gifts for the support of education and the continued growth and progress of Brunswick Community College. If you would like to find out more about the Community Luncheon or donations to the Foundation, contact Elina DiCostanzo at (910) 755-8517 or [email protected]