Centered in Cleveland, Life Bridges is a member of TNCO, a statewide trade association for community organizations that provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Tennessee. Life Bridges operates almost 40 housing units for its service recipients.
Brooks was named Wednesday to TNCO’s top legislative award in Murfreesboro at about the same time that fellow Bradley County legislator, State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, was being named “Legislator of the Year” by the Tennessee District Attorney Generals Conference in Nashville.
Brooks has been a longtime supporter of organizations like TNCO and Life Bridges, while serving as a voice for area residents with developmental disorders.
“This award is very meaningful to me personally,” Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner late Wednesday. “It is an honor to serve the fine folks of the 24th Legislative District. One of the many privileges of this service is to have the opportunity to be a voice in Nashville for those with little or no voice at all.”
This is the case with Tennessee residents with disabilities that require the kind of support that is provided by organizations like Life Bridges, Brooks noted.
“The service providers here in Cleveland and across the state do amazing things for amazing recipients,” the legislator said. “It was a joy when our local Life Bridges Chief Executive Officer Dr. Luke Queen asked for my assistance in serving some of his great folks. It is an honor to represent every single constituent, but it is a double honor to speak for those with the smallest voice in our society.”
Brooks pointed to Life Bridges recipients as a source of personal inspiration.
“My friend and former co-worker, Thomas Bland, just retired from 20 years of service at Lee University,” Brooks said. “Life Bridges and TNCO offer Thomas so much to give him the fullest and most fulfilled life possible. It’s a privilege to carry that same message of hope for those that need it most to the state capitol in Nashville. We must continue to fill the gap for our most vulnerable Tennesseans.”
Brooks, who was presented the award by Queen as the outgoing TNCO president, said he was surprised at the legislative honor. He also made a point to recognize Queen who also was recognized for his service to TNCO over the past two years.
Opening remarks at the TNCO annual session were made by Jim Henry, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities which oversees the work of agencies like Life Bridges. Henry praised the work and leadership of Queen, while also recognizing the legislative efforts of Brooks to support the work of TNCO members and to serve as a voice on behalf of Life Bridges and its recipients.
Brooks said one of the program highlights was the presence of Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland who had been invited as a special guest of TNCO.
“We talked almost every day and he [Rowland] never mentioned he would be attending,” Brooks said. “To have your friend and mentor with you on a special day is very rewarding and significant. I am grateful Mayor Rowland was there to present the award and I am humbled by his kind words.”
Brooks brought personal perspective to the recognition by TNCO.
“I am truly grateful for the award, but it’s not me who should be recognized,” the Cleveland legislator said. “This award truly goes to the Thomas Blands at Lee University, the James ‘Bubba’ Murphys at Jenkins’ Deli and the 200 other remarkable recipients of Life Bridges here in Cleveland.”
Of the Life Bridges recipients, Brooks stressed, “These brave and courageous men and women stand alongside us in our homes, at our jobs and in our places of worship. They are the champions who overcome adversity every day in hundreds of ways. This award is for each and every one of them. And I am honored to be their voice and advocate in the state House.”