By Mary Ellen Slone
“Philanthropy is most meaningful when no one insists on taking credit for the result.” - Thoreau
This famous quote, which has withstood the test of time, succinctly defines the essence of each member of the highly respected Versailles, Kentucky-based Jack Kain family and its personal, and corporate commitments which deploy their resources to benefit others.
Mr. Kain, at age 85, is still the active patriarch of this family clan. The proud father of 9 adult children, grandfather of 22, and great grandfather of 7. He is also a highly respected icon in both the worlds of philanthropy. He and his family support many local charities and have been affiliated with the Ford Motor Company for half a century.
Mr. Kain is the embodiment of many things—as an incredibly successful businessman, and a devout Catholic who works within the American automotive industry. Humble and kind, he is regarded as being wise, focused and fascinating. The Kain family members and the dozens employed by the dealership are proudly committed, year-round, to facilitating opportunities for soldiers from the Central Kentucky-based National Guard units overseas to have “some essence of normalcy” while they’re risking their lives to keep America safe.
A recent tour through the Kain Ford dealership in Versailles, Kentucky provided a fascinating opportunity to experience how totally committed this entire family is to “giving back’ to not-for-profit entities in the surrounding Central Kentucky community, and encouraging others to do likewise. High on this list of affiliations are the remarkable and unique ties to the Bravo Company 2/147th AHB Renegades Troop from the Kentucky National Guard.
These Guard members have enlisted for a tour of duty which requires each of them to serve a full year of military service deployed to assist members of our armed forces overseas. Often, as in the current case in the Middle East, these soldiers serve as 24/7 support units for boots-on-the-ground troops. This Central Kentucky National Guard troop contingent is populated with impressive numbers of patriotic individuals who are providing essential support for American troops, a very long distance away from the Bluegrass area.
Accordingly, the Kain Ford team is proud to honor our Kentucky Guard members’ valor as these local soldiers uproot their lives serving their 12-month commitments to supporting our military troop units overseas.
The Black Hawk Group Project is guided year-round by Rita Jones, who is not only the Kain Ford dealership’s long-standing Controller, but also the driving force for this unique mission to remind those who are serving our nation half-way-around the globe that their sacrifices are appreciated.
Having spearheaded this overseas effort since 2004, Rita shared
“The gratitude of the recipients of our outreach mission is unbelievably energizing for our team members and our community. Being able to imagine the smiles we’ve provided to those brave men and women so far away is heartwarming, to say the very least!”
As of July 2014, the Kain dealership team has purchased, packaged, and sent over 4,000 ‘care packages’ oversees through their Adopt-a-Troop organization.
Funding for the year-round initiative is from many sources; from the dealership and its team members, from folks who are customers and even youngsters with piggy banks have contributed their pennies The Kain family invests heavily in this mission as well.
Each employee in the dealership may voluntarily ‘ear-mark’ a small-but-set amount of his or her compensation toward the ongoing fulfillment of the program. The dealership pays for the shipping overseas.
According to Rita Jones, “We shop for non-perishables which will survive the transit overseas, and we make every attempt to send our soldiers items that will infuse their tours of duty with some reminders of home. We’ve successfully shipped everything from snacks and toiletries to microwave ovens, DVD players, artificial Christmas trees with decorations, X-box players and even popcorn machines overseas.
“While our troops have very little opportunity to access the comforts of home while they’re stationed abroad, they usually do have access to electricity and internet—which enables them to infuse some reminders of home while they’re on duty. We ship food which can be cooked easily-anything edible that will arrive in tact and brighten the spirits of these amazing folks—we’re game to try!”
As the Patriarch of the family, Mr. Kain explained how the Adopt-A-Troop idea came to be. “We recognized the need for something that would establish an ongoing, reliable link between our troops on assignment half way around the world, and those of us benefiting from their sacrifices to keep our country free. While this initiative is more than a labor of love for us here at home, it’s also a source of inspiration and hope for the men and women that are thousands of miles from their families- putting their lives, their hopes and dreams and their futures literally ‘on hold’ until they’re back in Kentucky and reunited with their waiting families.”
With the currently closely-watched and escalating turmoil in the Middle East, the realities of being here in Kentucky and separated by thousands of miles looms even more heavily than ever on Central Kentucky families whose spouses, fathers, friends, brothers and sisters and ‘significant others’ have been deployed.
The ‘ties that bind’ these soldiers and the Adopt-A-Troop volunteers with friends and family are significant. Because of the distances between continents, there tend to be round-the-clock online streams of communication between family members and their loved ones on duty.
Reaching out to a young woman whose then fiancée, now husband, has served our nation overseas, TOPS captured some very telling insights on how families make every effort to adapt during the wait. Her name is Mackenzie Holdsworth, and her wedding plans were significantly altered when her then fiancé’ Civil Engineer and National Guard Captain Forrest Holdsworth was called to serve our country for a year’s tour of duty overseas.
She recalls, “We were engaged, and we had committed to a wedding date, but Forrest wasn’t going to be stateside to help me plan most of our special day. Moreover, while he was able to communicate with me sporadically through email and FaceTime calls, I often didn’t know exactly where he was. That was especially difficult--hearing news stories about soldiers being hurt or killed overseas during those periods of time when he was out of touch.”
Thankfully, the entire unit returned safely to Central Kentucky, and the wedding between Mackenzie and Forrest was celebrated with all in attendance recognizing the significant sacrifices that are made to protect our nation.