Tom Eblen — Herald-Leader columnist | Source:Herald Leader
Alan Stein, a briefly retired minor league baseball executive, hadn't had time to hang his new shingle as a business consultant before a close friend called with Stein's first pro bono client.
Former Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon, chief executive of the Thomas & King restaurant group, called to say that Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass needed help. Stein didn't know how much help until he went to the next board meeting.
"When I walked in, some of the staff were in tears and packing up their desks," Stein said. The board had voted two days earlier to cease operations, the staff had been laid off and the organization was without an executive director.
But Stein thought a turnaround was possible. That afternoon, board members dug into their own pockets and went public with an emergency fund-raising appeal. Scanlon became the new board chairman.
More than $200,000 has been raised for the organization, which provides mentoring for at-risk young people in 13 Central Kentucky counties. But a big test will come this weekend, when Big Brothers Big Sisters has its largest annual fund-raiser, the Lexington Bowl for Kids' Sake, on Saturday and Sunday at Collins Bowling Centers-Southland.
Bowling teams may register before Friday afternoon for a one-hour slot. Similar events were held in Richmond and Danville last month, and another is planned April 15 in Mount Sterling.
Several companies and organizations have given donations and fund-raising help in recent weeks, Stein said, including Thomas & King, Central Bank, iHigh.com, Central Kentucky Blood Center, Ball Homes, Quantrell Auto Group and Ashland Inc.
"I've been speaking all over Central Kentucky the past three weeks, and every time, some individual has stepped up with a big contribution," Stein said. "What touched me more than anything were the small contributions we've received from the public — thousands of dollars, $5, $10, $20 at a time."
Georgetown College contributed the initial month's salary of Big Brothers Big Sisters' new executive director, Eric...