At his Texas City restaurant, Grand Prize Barbeque, Kevin Yackly serves up platters of barbecue to hungry patrons, always making sure to stop and thank the first responders in the crowd.
But whether or not he’s at the restaurant, service is the guiding force behind every aspect of his life.
Because of that service, County Commissioner Darrell Apffel nominated Yackly as a Daily News Everyday Hero.
“He works from dawn until midnight every day insuring that the community of Texas City-La Marque gets what it needs to be the best it can be,” Apffel said. “He does all this without request for anything in return.”
When Hurricane Harvey badly flooded Dickinson in August 2017, Yackly worked with local first responders to serve thousands of plates of food to evacuees.
“Since the restaurant sits on high ground, we didn’t have to evacuate and we were able to start feeding people right away,” he said.
He has organized fundraisers locally and for other communities — selling plates of barbecue to benefit victims in difficult times. But, it’s not only in times of disaster that Yackly feels called to serve, he said. Throughout the year he offers food and fellowship to seniors through his SeniorShare Program of Galveston County.
“Seniors are some of the most valuable members of our community, but they’re often forgotten,” Yackly said.
SeniorShare started as a simple gesture of kindness — Yackly would invite lonely people, many of them poor or elderly, to Christmas dinner at his house, he said. When the number of guests started to outgrow his home, Yackly came up with a plan that would solve the space issue and offer more activities throughout the year. He added a star-spangled event in July with food, games and prizes.
In December, SeniorShare hosted its 11th annual Christmas celebration at the Doyle Convention Center in Texas City, drawing hundreds of attendees. For Yackly, who lost his wife, Janet, in 2017, the importance of giving elderly people a chance to enjoy life has become even more important, he said.
“I’m a hard person to shop for around Christmas because I already have everything I need,” he said.
“I tell my friends and family, the best gift you can give me is to find a way to serve the community.”