Building a Refuge Partners With The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope, Sun King Brewery & More For Full Month of Men’s Health Events
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
Over the years, “Movember” or “No-shave November” has become quite popular in raising awareness for men’s health. Two local organizations are piggy-backing off the idea but looking to dig a little deeper than not shaving for a month.
Building a Refuge and the Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope have partnered to bring a full slate of November Men’s Health events to Fishers. Though the events will be held in Fishers, all men, regardless of where you live, are welcome to attend.
The goal — to break down the stigma of men’s health issues like depression and suicide and give men an outlet to talk, listen, hang out, share stories and build relationships.
“Hopefully we save some lives and get men out of that mindset of being too proud to admit they have issues or talk,” says Mike Riekhof, founder of The Peyton Riekhof Foundation. “We want men to realize through these events that they are not alone. There are plenty of us out there who have baggage.”
Riekhof met Erik Robinson years ago at a faith-based community event in Indy. Over the years, Robinson also attended some of the Peyton Riekhof Foundation’s Night of Hope events. It didn’t take long for the two men to form a bond and a friendship. That friendship led to conversations around men’s health and Building a Refuge was born along with the idea for the men’s health events in November.
The organization’s goal of bringing “hope and encouragement to men and assisting in building community to walk with them through life” is one born through Robinson’s own life experiences.
“I actually wound up in prison from 2012 to 2014 through some bad decisions that I’d made,” Robinson says. “A lot of the stuff I was dealing with leading up to that got worse because I isolated myself. It got so bad that it ended up with an attempt on my own life. When I think about this event and think about how we can get guys there, I think about myself. Mike and I have made it our mission to get the word out about this to everyone.
“The biggest thing we want men to realize is we are not asking anything of them when they come to these events,” Robinson adds. “The only thing we are asking them to do is come. That is the first step. The idea behind the events is creating and developing community. Hopefully, men will build relationships and feel like they can eventually share what they might be going through. But right now, this isn’t a Kum Ba Yah event where we will call men out specifically asking them to share. That won’t happen.”
The events begin Nov. 3 with the One Story at a Time Kickoff event from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Fishers High School. Bob Kravitz will emcee and four speakers will share their stories with breakfast and lunch provided. The following Monday, Nov. 5 will be the No Shave Movember Gathering at the Sun King Brewery & Tap Room in Fishers from 7 to 9 p.m. for a time to hang out, enjoy food and pre-beard growth photos will be taken.
The November events conclude Nov. 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Harley Davidson of Indy for a “Men’s Cafe with Collaborative Change” get together. The idea for the Men’s Cafe is a laid-back atmosphere for men to share ideas, gain a support system and continue building community. The Finale event wraps up the men’s health month on Dec. 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Harley Davidson of Indy. The Finale event will be family-friendly and include BBQ, a live band, college football, Sun King beer and more. Participants will also be able to compare beards for a final photo.
Throughout the events, groups from all walks of life will be on hand to meet and talk with participants.
“This is not a religious event,” Robinson says. “But there will be local pastors there, therapists, men’s groups, outdoors groups and many other different organizations. We want to provide outlets for men to plug in and form relationships. We will create an environment that isn’t intimidating.”
The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope focuses on mental health awareness for youth and students, and their mission won’t change. Still, Riekhof says as he and Robinson talked more about men’s health, it made sense to develop a partnership and bring this event to the city. All November events will be for men ages 16 and up, which will provide an opportunity for youth, possibly fathers and sons, to attend the events together.
“We feel like the youth are starting to get it,” Riekhof says. “If they’ve got some kind of mental illness or issue they know to go talk to somebody. Erik came up with the idea to do a program for the men, either men who might have someone in their family dealing with these issues or maybe they are in a rut or hurting. I was all for it. The more I’ve been involved, the more I’ve gotten sucked into it because there is an obvious need for this. My goal is to help men but also to reach dads that have kids that might have mental health issues and don’t know what to do. We want to give them some hope too and some resources and direction for them.”
Both Riekhof and Robinson say they hope to do more beyond the events planned for November. Their goal is to continue building community and plan follow up events in the future for men to check in and continue building relationships.
“Our hope is we can package this up and present it to different organizations to use in the future, too,” Robinson says. “I don’t want to just say this is the month of November only. We want this to continue however the men want to go moving forward.”
All Building a Refuge events are free for men to attend. For more information and to register for the events, visit BuildingaRefuge.com. For more information on the Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope, visit ThePeytonRiekhoffoundation.com.