Our View: Harold Brooks leaves a legacy of service
Even in retirement, Harold Brooks plans to serve Sylacauga area youth at the Boys Club. It’s a place that would seem strange without him. He’s been involved with the club for more than half a century.

A member himself, he became a volunteer at the club and served as director for 40 years, turning over the director’s job to his son Jody. For the past several years he has served as special projects coordinator, and he said that in retirement he wants to return to spending quality time with the kids at the club without having to be concerned with administrative duties.

The Board of Directors for the Sylacauga Boys Club has decided to name the club’s building in Brooks’ honor, and is planning a retirement reception and dedication ceremony for May 19.

Brooks has said that about two-thirds of the kids he now sees at the club are the children and grandchildren of others who have participated in club activities.

He has said he never wanted a child to come through the Boys Club and say that no one had the time for them when they needed help, and his goal has been to be there for them.

Brooks was a schoolteacher and coach for several years before taking on the work at the club full time, and many still call him Coach Brooks.

He’s earned many honors and accolades for his service to the club, but having the club named for him probably ranks as the biggest honor. Others include the 2009 “Man and Youth” award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Distinguished Citizen award from the Greater Alabama Council Boy Scouts of America, the Nanellen Lang Citizen of the Year award from the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce in 2006, the Governor’s Youth Leadership award, inductee of the Alabama Softball Hall of Fame and JSU Baseball’s 100 Greatest Athletes.

In addition, Brooks has been recognized as an outstanding youth leader by the Central Alabama Boys and Girls Club, received a resolution from the city for service to youth, is a member of the “First Tee” children’s program Board of Directors, carried the Olympic torch in the 1996 Atlanta games, was awarded 1974 Jaycees Man of the Year and played minor league baseball with the Pittsburg Pirates for two years.

Jody Brooks has followed in his father’s footsteps and learned lessons about helping shape the character of the children who spend time at the club.

Both take pride in the successes they have seen, and hope their work to help keep young people pointed in a positive direction has helped make a difference.

The commitment and longevity Brooks has shown are extraordinary, and even now he says he can’t imagine ever not being part of the club.

Brooks and son Jody have made a difference in Sylacauga, investing their time in the lives of young people there. The elder Brooks is leaving a legacy of service there that serve as an inspiring example for others, and the younger is building on his father’s work. That’s a remarkable investment in the lives of Sylacauga’s youth.

We appreciate the work both Brooks have done for kids at the club, and hope they are able to continue their work for a long time to come.

© 2013