Local heroes: APSO Lieutenant Mike Brooks

Logan Ridenour
Local heroes: Lieutenant Mike Brooks leads programs at the Waguespack Center in Donaldsonville, La.

Lieutenant Mike Brooks serves his community and gives back to his hometown by coordinating events for local youth at the Waguespack Center. The facility is located in Donaldsonville and also serves as a

sheriff's office substation.

When the center opened in 2017, Sheriff Bobby Webre knew exactly who to put in charge of shaping kids' futures. "Mike Brooks has been with us for many, many years. We knew then that he had the right temperament to be with kids, to mentor kids, and to make them better at what they do."

Through a constant push to bring educational and recreational activities to local kids Lt. Brooks has made the program what it is today.

"When we built it several years ago we knew what we could do with it, but Mike has brought it to levels that we didn't even envision at the time," Sheriff Webre said.

When you talk to Brooks you can feel his passion and excitement for helping others. And as a Donaldsonville native, he knows what it's like to grow up with a sense of community.

"I wanted to create an environment or an atmosphere that they can come and express themselves in a safe manner and learn as well," Brooks said.

This began by first visiting each school and surveying the specific needs of the students. They discovered that a lot of kids couldn't complete homework after school due to a lack of resources.

This led to the creation of an after-school study lab with computers, school supplies and a library available to kids in the afternoons. He's also started incorporating Primetime into the center. Primetime is a six-week reading program for families.

"A lot of kids are really benefiting from what we're doing here and I'm very proud of that," said Brooks.

Along with their regular services, the Waguespack Center also hosts major events throughout the year. Brooks tries to encourage safety and community involvement during major holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Christmas. And he makes sure that the kids don't go home empty-handed or hungry.

There are always kids at the basketball court behind the center. While some do not take advantage of the programs, they don't escape Brooks's guidance so easily. He's always out there talking with them and encouraging them to do the right thing.

"I want everybody here to be a part of something bigger," he said.

As a father of four, Brooks attributes a lot of his success to his family and the volunteers at the center. Him and his wife Sabrina are always brainstorming new ideas for different programs.

While the center is located in Donaldsonville, Brooks encourages anyone nearby to check out the programs available.