By Philip Case
As unlikely as it may seem, the donation of a used crock-pot ultimately resulted in Jason Hart becoming president of the combined board of the Sunshine Center and Family Abuse Services Inc.
“We had a crock-pot we no longer needed,” said Hart, a Frankfort attorney. “I took it to the Sunshine Center. They sent me a letter of thanks and asked if I’d like to become a member of the board.”
Looking for ways to become more involved in the community, Hart agreed. This is his first year as president.
“For many years the two were separate,” said Hart, owner of Apollo Law on St. Clair Street, the firm carrying his middle name. “Now there’s just one board representing both.”
Hart believes volunteering in the community is important – and Frankfort needs more volunteers.
“Most people seem to just want to finish their jobs and go home. There’s a real need for volunteers in our community.
“I see the same 20 to 30 people at every volunteer event I’m involved in,” he said. He’s also president of the Young Democrats, is a member of Capital Pride and involved in the revitalization of Capital Lodge 6 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows – among other things.
Currently, his focus is on the one major fundraiser for the Sunshine Center and Family Abuse Services: the annual Capital City Blues Festival, set for Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Ward Oates Amphitheater behind the Kentucky Bar Association. It will feature T.D. Young and Tulie Brae.
“Advance tickets are $20, or $25 at the gate. We need a big turnout and for people to participate in the silent auction, too.”
Hart said donations are running a little behind.
“Because of the change in the tax law, we are having to work harder to get the donations,” Hart said. “The people who’ve always donated continue, but we get some pushback from new ones.”
The tax law changed some of the rules regarding what and how charitable contributions can be deducted.
Hart is from Bath County and grew up in Berea. He is a graduate of Berea College, where he met his wife, Elizabeth. They have a daughter, Claire Artemis, 5, who will be entering kindergarten at Collins Lane Elementary School next week.
He is a graduate of the David A. Clark School of Law in Washington, D.C. Elizabeth works in state government and is a graduate of George Washington University, also in the nation’s capital.
“I’ve done a lot of work as a public defender and in criminal law,” Hart said. “I like to do things to help people and volunteering is a way to do that.”
Hart, who at 37 doesn’t consider himself young anymore, would like to see more teens and young adults volunteer.
“I try to reach out to high school and KSU students,” he said. “I think it’s good to try to pull people together for a cause.”
Hart said his involvement in the Odd Fellows began after Eric Whisman started working to revive the organization that was in danger of disbanding.
“Eric worked to repair the building that’s on Bridge Street across from Rick’s White Light Diner.”
The Odd Fellows sponsors a monthly market on what was the St. Clair Mall between Main and Broadway. “It’s a good event that brings businesses and people together for an evening of fun, music and entertainment.”
Hart believes the more there is to do in a community the closer its citizens become.
“I seem to always be doing something on weeknights,” he said, “but I try to reserve the weekend for my family. I just think it’s important to be involved, to reinvest in the town.”
He’s also a member of the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce and will graduate next week from Leadership Frankfort.
“My mother taught me when I was growing up to give back,” he said. “She used to take me out to pick up trash along the road.
“I guess you’d have to say I’ve been volunteering all my life.”