Rocky McKay aka “Rocky The Roofer” President of The Operation Organization Inc. and Founder of Operation Reset
Rocky McKay aka “Rocky The Roofer” is the Founder and President of The Operation Organization Inc. (TOO) a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose program Operation Reset gives a “hand-up and not a hand-out” to returning citizens – U.S. Veterans who’ve returned home jobless, non violent ex-offenders, and homeless people in need of a second chance.
A successful business man, Rocky, is originally from Long Island, New York and currently runs a successful roofing business, RTR Consulting, in Atlanta GA where he now resides. A military brat and preacher’s son, Rocky lived in many different countries – Italy, Holland, Germany – where his father was stationed; eventually settling in New York. He married at the young age of 19, had his first child, and worked as a roof laborer to support his family. Teased by his peers, the name Rocky The Roofer was intended as an insult to downgrade him, but instead he adopted it as his moniker.
Young and seeking excitement, Rocky moved from New York to Florida chasing an opportunity in the music industry. “I soon realized that the music industry wasn’t for me. It required a lot of traveling and since I moved so much as a child, I didn’t want to put my family through that,” shares Rocky. He eventually returned to Florida and decided to get back into the roofing industry. Upon returning home, he landed in a bit of trouble and found himself incarcerated for 90 days in a Florida jail. “It was the lowest part of my life, but I learned so much about myself. I met so many people with different backgrounds who I wouldn’t have met on the outside. I realized that many of them were just like myself, in the wrong place at the wrong time or associated with the wrong people.”
Rocky was released from jail to find that he had nothing; everything he worked so hard for was gone. Yet he emerged a man with a new perspective on life, a new purpose. “One of the biggest lessons I learned in lock-up was humility. I learned not to judge people based upon their past. People in jail have dreams, hopes, and families they need to support. They are our brothers, fathers, sons, moms, and daughters. Ex-offenders have served their time, but remain shackled to their past. I wanted to create a program that would give them hope, a new beginning when they come home.” The idea for Operation Reset came while Rocky and his RTR Consulting team were on a roofing contract. “One of my workers yelled for me to come and see a busload of men who were being transferred from prison to a halfway house. We went down to talk with them and it turned out they were all looking for jobs. I decided to see if Operation Reset would work by hiring these men and I haven’t regretted that decision. That day and every one since has been a yes day!”
After training with Operation Reset, qualified participants are given certificates to open up opportunities within Operation Reset’s network of roofing/construction companies across the nation. Operation Reset has provided roofing and construction services through RTR Consulting to: NASA Space Center (TX & MS), Fort Benning (GA), Mayo Clinic, Universities of North & South Florida, University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital, Gladys Knight Chicken & Waffles Restaurant (ATL, GA), University of Florida, Publix (FL & GA), Kroger (TN & GA), Walmart (FL, GA, SC and NC), Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites (FL), Palm Coast Fire Dept (FL) and more. At Fort Lee Army Base (VI), RTR hired approximately 100 men, 89 of those men have jobs in construction now thanks to the training and mentorship of Rocky The Roofer.
“Rocky is a man of great character and giving heart,” expresses Tara Cummins, VP of The Operation Organization. “We are not defined by our past mistakes. Sometimes we just need a new start, a new opportunity to become better, not in spite of our past, but because of it,” shares Rocky. “This is my way of giving back to the men I meet when I visit the jails. One of the first things that happens when you go to jail is you’re stripped of your outside life, your personality, your clothes are taken from you, your hair in cut in an attempt to strip you of your dignity. You’re given a new identify, a number, and the only thing that separates you from other inmates is that number. These people are not numbers to me. Watching them change their lives through Operation Reset is evidence that as we expand our program nationally, we could not only change the lives of our participants, but the communities they’re a part of, just by saying yes!”