When his world was torn apart, Dan Brack Jr. still saw the silver lining.  Brack lost his, then eleven year old, son, Dustin Tyler, in 2002 because of a skiing accident. Most would turn inward and forget about the rest of the world. Not Brack. He uses his pain to connect with hundreds of kids in the community everyday.

Brack used to work at K-Dan’s and Danny’s Super Foods, that are owned by his father, Danny Brack Sr. Losing his son was the turning point in his life. Even though he was pretty active in his church, Community Church in Orange, he delved even deeper and became the Senior High Youth Pastor, but it didn’t stop there. “I do anything that has to do with kids,” Brack said. “I get paid to be the youth pastor but I [volunteer] to be the sports chaplain and all that other stuff. It’s where my heart is, it’s what I do.”

“I do what I do because it’s what I’m supposed to do,” Brack said. “There’s a real joy that comes with helping kids. When you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not work. This is the most enjoyable thing I can do. I get to hang out with kids all day long.”

His real passion is helping those that are down and out. He explained that the hardest part of what he does is helping children that are dealing with things at home that most would consider a nightmare. “When kids are in unbelievable situations, your heart is broken for them,” Brack said.

“My heart goes out to the kids [that have lost loved ones, a father or mother]  because of the loss in our lives,” Brack said. “I feel we have a special connection with those kids. That’s hard for me and I sometimes get [overwhelmed], I almost have to separate myself at times.”

“There are so many to help. There are lots and lots of kids that are in situations less fortunate,” he said. “ I’ve got kids [here] who’s parents are very successful and have put careers above their kids. The kids don’t feel valued. It’s hard. It would blow you away the number of kids that are hurting and don’t feel accepted.”

“Kids can handle a lot but they have pain and we’re a place for them to come in and know that someone cares” he said. “They break all of kids up into small groups of eight to ten so they have someone they can talk to that’s not just an adult. They have a small group leader that keeps Brack informed of what’s going on in the children’s lives. “They also do a lot of what I do because I can’t go to all of the kids games.”

Brack explained that he volunteered his time and spent a week at West Orange – Stark High school when senior quarterback Reggie Garrett died. “It was extremely quite, almost eery feeling,” he said. “To walk down the halls with hundreds of kids and have no sound. Even at lunch it was still quiet. The school did a great job in getting ministers from our area in and to be there. We talked to kids about their feelings and what relationships they had [with Garrett]. “

Brack and the Community Church opened their doors to the students of WO-S for a special Wednesday night service and had about 500 kids attend the event. They also volunteered the building for Garrett’s funeral. “We wanted to do our part to help at that time,” he said. Brack said that since then, eight to ten students have started attending and are now involved with the church.

Even though Brack is an extraordinary man for what he does to help the children of this community, he is the first to admit that it’s not all about him. “It’s a lot bigger than just me. It’s all the people around, the sponsors, the band, the people who volunteer and those who care about the youth of this city’” he said.

Brack explained that 40 volunteers from around the county come out to help sponsor the junior high and high school kids at the Wednesday night services. “They play a big, big part in what we do,” he said. “We have people that work in the Sheriff’s department, retired teachers and coaches, current teachers, plant workers, etc. We have a group for every kind of kid that comes in. They are a positive influence. It’s a big undertaking.”

The Community Church of Orange offers many activities for the youth. They sponsor ‘The Drive Center’ which sits in the old church building and is located at 1911 N. 16th St. in Orange. It has a game room, pool tables, foosball, ping pong,  big screen TV’s, and full gym for basketball. They even have a full cafeteria so kids that come in right after school can get a meal. “It’s just a place for them to come hang out,” Brack said. They also offer a Wednesday night youth service with a teaching and music.

“We’re not a church that tries to gobble up everybody, “ he said. “We help whoever we can help. We just want to be part of the community.”

The Community Church building also doubles as a school. There are only 300 students in the entire school and only 60 in the high school. The small student body doesn’t take away from their academics and sports. The Community Christian School has boys and girls basketball, track, volleyball and will have a six-man football team next year. “We do very well in all of the sports and our academics are out of this world,” Brack said. “Last year, we had ten kids graduate and a total of $903,000 in scholarships were given out.”  Brack also said that CCS has more teachers with Masters degrees and Doctorates, per ratio, than any school in the area. 

Kids from 87 different community churches make up the student body at CCS. “It doesn’t matter if they go to church here or not,” he said.

Brack is not only the Senior High Youth Pastor, but he is also the coach for the girl’s basketball team and is the chaplain to all the sports program. “I go where the kids are and try to be a positive influence,” he said.
Brack said that his favorite thing about this job is that he still gets to be a kid. “I don’t have to grow up. I get to hang out and do the things that kids do, even though they make fun of me because I’m old.”

The Sunday morning church services start at 9:30 a.m. and evening service starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday night services for adults and youth start at 6 p.m. For more information on Community Church and Community Christian School, call 409-883-4531.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers