'A spoke in the wheel'

Brad Allison's senior portrait hangs in the hallway of Harrison County High School in Cynthiana. Twenty-seven years later, Brad spends most of his times in these same hallways. He supports students through his work with the Youth Service Center, a Kentucky school-based social program. He's also the Harrison County High School athletic director and the Cynthiana Christian Church youth director.

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."

Brad's son Noah, 8, joins him at work dressed as a viking for Halloween. As an active member of his community and a father of three, Brad and his wife Stacey, a principal at a different school, find ways to weave their lives together to keep their familial relationships close while still serving their communities.
Noah (center) listens while Brad reads a Bible passage to a group of kids during a weekly youth meeting at Cynthiana Christian Church. He says his family is able to remain connected because he and Stacey raise their kids under the premise that if you have the privelige to help others then you should. "It's not about us," he says.
"It feels good inside," Matthew Burton says as Brad helps him into a donated sweatshirt in order to help him endure the colder weather. Brad keeps a stock of clothing that he gathered through donations after realizing some families couldn't afford uniforms when the dress code at Harrison County Middle School was enacted.
The background of Brad's phone displays a picture of his family. He and his wife Stacey adopted Sarah, now 17, from Guatemala in 2002 and, shortly after, Stacey gave birth to Elizabeth, now 16. They became legal guardians to Noah, 8, in 2013.
Brad arrives late to dinner at Stacey's parents home after keeping score for the Harrison County High School regional volleyball championship. Many nights, due to his busy schedule, Brad sits down at home with a bowl of cereal around 10 p.m.
Brad keeps score at the Harrison County High School regional volleyball championship game in Cynthiana. As the athletic director, it is his responsibility to make sure all sporting events are supervised. He credits members of his school community that are willing to put in extra time and help him support the athletes and students. "I'm just a spoke in a wheel," he says.
Brad rests his eyes during a haircut at Cuts on Mane in Cynthiana. It's a rare moment when he has nothing to do. Although life is hectic, Brad says he finds purpose in making a difference in the lives of the people around him. "As long as I can look in the mirror each day and know that I am helping people out, I am happy."