Born and raised in East Chicago, IN, Brian Harvey was helping people from a young age. Whether it was helping his family, protecting his friends in the neighborhood, or a random stranger, Harvey had a big heart from the start.
Harvey attended the schools in East Chicago, including East Chicago Central High School. He loved sports and was heavily involved in football and basketball.
"My senior year three schools combined: East Chicago Washington, East Chicago Roosevelt and I was the first captain of any sport after the merging," Harvey said proudly. "I was fun-loving and caring as a young man. I despised bullies so I was sort of the protector in my community. I didn't tolerate the stupid stuff that bullies did."
After graduating from high school, Harvey went to Indiana State to play football. He majored in Criminology and sought out a path in helping children. He then found the Gibault School for Boys.
"I started working with the kids there and I was hooked," Harvey said. "I knew that this was something I could really do. I just love helping people and seeing the kids learn and grow."
From then on Harvey knew what he had to do. He came back to Northwest Indiana after three years and got a job at Willow Glen Academy. He worked with children with special needs and was quickly promoted. He got a second job at what is now known as Companion Academy to help supplement his income. He was promoted there as well and stayed on for the next 17 years.
"I took the kids camping and went on college tours with them and did things that not many people did with these kids," Harvey said. "I became close with the Executive Director there and she became a mentor for me."
With the desire to do something different, Harvey went to Regional Mental Health and became a case worker. It was a completely different experience and had a big impact on his life.
"It was a wonderful and tough experience," Harvey said. "But after some big things took place I decided I needed a break."
And that is what brought him to a Positive Approach to Teen Health. Harvey became the Project Director at PATH and he loves it.
"This opportunity with PATH has changed my life," he said. "I get to travel, learn lots of things, I just graduated from Leadership Northwest Indiana...it's wonderful."
PATH is a nonprofit organization that works with middle school students in NWI.
"We have resources that allow us to go to schools to teach the kids how to remain abstinent," Harvey explained. "We also teach them other adult prep subjects like social skills, negotiation skills, coping skills, we talk about dating violence, infatuation versus love, and other topics that no one else brings up to the kids. We also build relationships with the kids. We want them to know that we care about them."
PATH has two programs that they are able to reach kids through:
Planned Potential: 5 day classroom curricula for rural 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. Read more...
Horizon: interactive program designed to show urban teens the value of self worth, responsibility, and making healthy choices. Read more...
Click here to find out more about PATH! Find PATH on Facebook! Follow PATH on Twitter!
So going back to the beginning, what got Harvey interested in this field?
"The reason I started working with kids is because I grew up without a father figure," Harvey said. "I was teased because I was different and as I got older and stronger I was determined to not let that happen to others. I remember how that felt and I don't want young kids to feel that way. My passion is working with disadvantaged and poor individuals. There are many family around the region that need support and don't get what they need which causes kids to take the wrong path. And my passion has always been helping children because I was once that kid. I could have been on drugs or wound up dead; a lot of bad things could have happened had I not had role models in my life...I just want to give back because I believe that if kids are given a fair chance then they can be anything they want, and often kids don't get a fair chance."
Outside of PATH, Harvey volunteers at his church and spends time with his wife and three kids. He loves sports, reading, all kids of music, and going with his family to their local YMCA.
With all of the things that Harvey does in his life, he has to have some bits of wisdom to pass on to readers.
"I believe everything starts with God," Harvey said. "Prayer, praise, repentance, and obedience. When you try to do things on your own that when you struggle but when you follow what God tell you to do you're going to be fine. Try to be consistent in what you do and treat people the way I want to be treated."