Knott Co. teen recognized for service

By Mitchell Grogg | 

Hindman, Ky. (WYMT)-- Gardening and other volunteer work gained a Knott County teen a national award for his service.

Bailey Combs, a student and football player at Knott County Central High School, won the 2014 Young Adult Volunteer of the Year award from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. He is set to celebrate at a convention in October.

"Coach always told us to give back, have respect, and he always said, 'Go out and do stuff in the community, help out,'" Bailey said. "The only thing I could do is plant a garden, because that's all I knew how to do, and I got that from my papaw."

The garden in the back yard of Knott County Health and Rehabilitation Center was one way for Bailey to give back. He also spends time with the residents there.

Frances Hudson lives at the center and is also Bailey's great aunt. She describes him as a "good boy" who "knows what he's doing."

"He gives me some of the stuff and I eat it," Hudson said with a laugh.

That stuff includes some peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers...cantaloupe, and bell peppers, said Bailey.

Administrator Ruby Pigman appreciates both the food produced and the company Bailey brings.

"He actually comes quite often, visits with the residents, plays cards with them," said Pigman.

The volunteerism also helps to keep the residents happy, said Steve McClain, director of communications for the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities.

"It's just great to recognize them for the work that they do, bringing joy and laughter and music to our residents," McClain said.

This achievement also brought joy to Bailey's grandfather, Ronnie Whitaker, who taught him how to grow food in a garden, though he was skeptical of the garden at the nursing facility at first.

"I'm real proud of him," said Whitaker. "And especially proud of him for what he's done at the nursing home. I think more people should be getting involved in a nursing home."

Bailey's involvement in gardening began early, and Bailey also helps people getting involved early in something else.

He likes to "work football games for the little ones, with the other teammates," Bailey said.

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