Family “sees a bright future” for region
(December 19, 2006) Athens, Ohio – Mike and Pam Brooks of Nelsonville, Ohio, recently made a personal donation of $50,000 to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, which is headquartered in Nelsonville. Mike is the CEO of the Nelsonville-based Rocky Brands, Inc.
The gift was announced at the Foundation’s second annual celebratory and friend-raising event in November.
“It’s our small way of giving back to the area, whether it’s through jobs or money,” Mike Brooks said.
Ron Strickmaker, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, said the generosity of the Brooks family enables the Foundation to invest in the region with grants, increase scholarship dollars and encourage families to make their own charitable gifts for the causes and communities they care about.
“Mike and Pam Brooks epitomize the act of giving back,” Strickmaker said. “Everyone in our area has the ability to participate at some level of involvement to make our Appalachian home a better place to live. We all have the responsibility to our children and communities to do the right thing.”
The Brooks family has deep roots in Appalachian Ohio. Mike grew up with family members in Nelsonville and spent his childhood one block from his father’s shoe factory. He believes the generosity of other committed local families can help the region grow by encouraging young residents to stay or return to the area. Brooks also commented on the importance of attracting new young professionals to the region.
“I see a bright future. It’s a wonderful place to bring a family up,” Brooks said. “It’s our turn. Our future lies in our young people coming back and giving back.”
“The gift to the Foundation by Mike and Pam is a wonderful example of how people who love and care about this special place are making a difference with their giving right now, when both the need and the opportunities for positive change are great,” said Leslie Lilly, President and CEO of the Foundation. “We are very grateful for the trust and support of the Brooks family in making this gift to FAO.”
Kevin Dotson, Retail Manager of Rocky Brands, Inc., discussed the low-key giving attitude that both Rocky and the Brooks embrace.
“Many times Rocky steps forward and gives to causes without asking for recognition,” Dotson said. “If we had a CEO that did not have his heart in our region, many of the things we do to help would not be permitted. Through Mike’s leadership, Rocky is involved in social and economic issues throughout the region.”
Rocky Brands, Inc. gives to “countless causes” each year through support of health-related issues, such as Relay for Life and cancer awareness groups, donations to area fundraisers and help for families who have experienced tragic losses, Dotson said. Personally, Brooks also spearheaded beautification and revitalization projects in the Nelsonville business district and helped make the Bike Path extension possible.
Brooks was recognized as one of the Foundation’s first I’m a Child of Appalachia™ honorees in 2005 because of his personal heritage, success and longtime commitment to philanthropy in the region.
Lilly said celebrating stories like those of the Brooks family is important because they challenge stereotypes of what it means to be “Appalachian” and give recognition to the many ways our region’s community and business leaders are giving back and investing in the future of the region.
She noted other I’m a Child of Appalachia™ honorees include Gallia County native Dr. Nancy Zimpher, President of the University of Cincinnati, and Leona Hughes, a native of Jackson County, whose philanthropy has provided full four-year college scholarships for high school seniors graduating from her alma mater of Oak Hill.
Rocky Brands, Inc. is headquartered in Nelsonville and is a world leader in rugged outdoor and occupational footwear. Corporate offices, warehouse and distribution centers now accompany the original manufacturing building in Nelsonville that dates back to 1932. Nearly 3,000 retail and catalog outlets carry Rocky footwear.