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Building Hope No Matter What – Meet Janet

Janet Dobson signs her new book, Tracy and the Heroes in Blue.

Ask Janet why she builds hope with Roc Solid and you are sure to get the most authentic smile and heartfelt response. Janet Dobson has been one of Roc Solid’s many incredible volunteers since 2019. A cancer survivor herself, Janet knows firsthand the fear and chaos of a cancer diagnosis brings. She loves to bring hope into those moments for kids and their families fighting pediatric cancer. As of July of 2022, Janet has led 30 playset builds, helped sponsor groups at countless Ready Bag Packing Parties, attended many events, and even published her very own children’s book about Roc Solid’s mission.

Becoming Hope

After supporting Roc Solid through donations for years, Janet wanted to find out more about the mission and other ways she could get involved. She asked a mutual friend and Roc Solid Team member to help her get connected with Eric Newman, founder and Chief Play Officer at Roc Solid, to hear his story. Now Janet says, “My life was truly enriched that September day when I had coffee with Eric!”

Janet jumped into the mission and attended her first playset build soon after her meeting with Eric. She shares, “I wanted to see first hand what was involved and if it was even something I thought I would enjoy doing. It was very overwhelming and confusing to me but seeing it all come together and seeing the joy in that little boy’s face as well as the gratitude of his parents told me this was something I needed to take on.” 

Anja, Rich and Janet prepare for Play Defeats Cancer Tour!

Making Play Defeat Cancer

During the 2022 Play Defeats Cancer Tour, Janet traveled to Dallas, TX with two other build leaders to build playsets for three kiddos fighting cancer. Janet shares, “I’ve never backed away from challenges and I knew with training and determination I could learn to be a good build leader.”

Each build leader has a unique “why” for their love for building playsets, but they will all agree that seeing the joy on the kiddos’ faces when they see their playset for the first time beats anything else. “I love the friendships I have made with other build leaders and all the travel we get to do for a build. I love the physical aspect of the builds and having to use your mind to figure things out. But seeing the joy on the faces of the children and their families is beyond heartwarming. You definitely know you’ve made a difference in their lives.” Janet shares.  

Building on a Legacy

Janet after receiving the Nicole Newman Award.

During the 2022 annual Build Leader Training, Janet was awarded the Nicole Newman Award recognizing extraordinary service in volunteer leadership. The award is given in honor of Eric’s cousin, Nicole Newman, who passed away due to pediatric cancer when Eric was a child.

“Winning The Nicole Newman Award has to be one of the most surprising and touching memories I have. Everything I ever do for others is never done with expectations of being recognized and applauded but knowing that the work you have done is appreciated is definitely a nice thing to feel. I am always told how much I am appreciated and thanked for all that I do at Roc Solid.” Janet shares.

Sharing Stories of Hope

In June of 2022, Janet launched her very first children’s book, Tracy and the Heroes in Blue. The book shares the story of a young girl fighting pediatric cancer and how Roc Solid Foundation built her a playset. Janet shares about how she decided to write the book: 

Janet with Roc Solid Founder, Eric Newman.

“I have always loved to write and several years ago I started writing a book about my personal experiences (at the behest of quite a few friends) but ended up floundering. The opportunity to take a course in writing a children’s book presented itself and after much thought decided to go for it. I thought the education I would receive would help me to finish that book. After enrolling in the course I knew I needed to come up with a storyline and commit to what I had taken on.”

She continued, “I struggled with what to write about. One evening after working at the warehouse that day I was reflecting on conversations that I’d had with other Roc Solid people and thinking about some of the children we have loved and served. Suddenly it was like a bolt of lightning hit me in the head…write about a little girl and her experience with Roc Solid. From that point on it all flowed. The support I have received and continue to receive from everyone at Roc Solid has made all the difference in this journey I have been on.” 

No Matter What, No Matter Where.

At Roc Solid, we build hope no matter what it looks like in a moment, and no matter where you are. Janet is the embodiment of that value. Our Roc Solid team, families, and volunteers are constantly blessed by Janet’s spirit and dedication to the mission. Janet is also always ready to share about how Roc Solid has impacted her life.

She shares,  “I’ve volunteered at many organizations over the years but none have ever come close to touching me like working with Roc Solid. All of the staff and volunteers that I have been blessed to meet and work with so far are just incredible people and many have become dear friends.  The children and families I have been able to help through my work with RSF will stay in my heart forever. My life was truly enriched that September day when I had coffee with Eric!” 

Want to build hope like Janet? 

Volunteer for a Ready Bag Packing Party or a Playset Build, or come help out at the warehouse in Chesapeake, VA using the volunteer calendar or send us an email at

Check out our Play it Forward and Roc Solid on Demand playset programs and be the hero for a family fighting pediatric cancer. 

Grab a copy of Janet’s book, Tracy and the Heroes in Blue! A portion of the proceeds are donated to support Roc Solid’s mission.