The latest news regarding COVID-19 and the 2021 Mountain WorkshopsShow me more
'A spoke in the wheel'
by Jessica Tezak
Sitting in his office in Harrison County Middle School, Brad Allison gets a call on his walkie-talkie, "Mykayah needs a new shirt."
As coordinator at the Youth Service Center, Kentucky's local school-based social service program, Brad keeps a closet for exactly this kind of scenario. Tucked between the teacher's lounge and school theater, polos of every color and size hang along the right side opposite a shelf stacked with khaki pants.
The space, about 20 feet deep, is filled with clothing given by students for classmates in need. Brad called for donations after the middle school adopted a dress code. He gave students an incentive: They can dress down if they bring a polo and khakis.
About 3 in 5 kids attending Harrison County schools qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on family income. Brad does whatever he can to ease the lives of families in the community. He wants to help things run smoothly for everyone around him, whether at school, church or home.
"I'm just a spoke in a wheel," he says.
Besides running the Youth Service Center, Brad is the Harrison County High School athletic director, Cynthiana Christian Church youth director and a father of three.
He moved to Cynthiana when he was a sophomore in high school and quickly made a name for himself on the baseball team. He married his wife Stacey while enrolled at Morehead State University. Then he was drafted to the Arizona Diamondbacks and spent three seasons playing minor league baseball.
At 26, he moved back to Cynthiana where he and Stacey grew their family. They adopted Sarah from Guatemala, then, shortly after, Stacey gave birth to Elizabeth. About a decade later, they became the legal guardians of Noah.
Twenty years have passed since they moved home. The kids are 17, 16 and 8. Brad says the way he and Stacey have raised them coincides with the way that they live: It is not about them, it is about the community.
This level of commitment comes at a cost. Oftentimes, Brad gets home around 10 at night and eats a bowl of cereal for dinner.
"Do you want Frosted Flakes or Frosted Mini Wheats?" Stacey jokes.
These days, with two teenagers, they say that the only time they are all together is when they are sleeping.
But that's not exactly true. Whether it's Brad and Noah's monthly haircut, Sarah's cheer competition, or "The Breakfast Club"– the weekly meal for middle and high school students that Brad hosts every Friday during the school year at his church – the family finds ways to be together.
Life is hectic, but Brad assures he wouldn't have it any other way. "As long as I can look in the mirror each day and know that I am helping people out, I'm happy."