The Board of Directors and staff of Project Mend-A-House (PMAH) are proud to announce the 2016 Howard Horner Volunteer of the Year award recipient. Air Force veteran Ken Kunkel started volunteering with Project Mend-A-House as a “weekend warrior” about 12 years ago, before retiring from the Federal Government. After retiring, and finding himself with time on his hands, he began his “second career” as a Project Mend-A-House volunteer.
Inspired through one of PMAH’s outreach efforts at Gainesville United Methodist Church, Ken signed up to volunteer. He remembers his first project with an ironic chuckle: hanging concrete board at a small house in “pretty bad shape” located off Wellington by the railroad tracks, not far from where our offices are now. For him, it’s the most rewarding feeling to be able to make someone smile – helping those who can’t help themselves. “Gratification comes from getting the job done.”
Over the last 12 years, he’s become a stable fixture at PMAH, always helping out when needed, going above and beyond. Our clients are his mission, even going so far as to go to a client’s house to help them fill out the form to get assistance, and appearing in court on another’s behalf. Believing in the mission, he’s been dubbed the “Vet Guy” for his tireless dedication to helping the county’s low-income, senior vets.
“Ken’s dedication to our veterans and other clients is truly inspiring. He is a humble guy who is making a tremendous difference in our community and the lives of our clients.” said Jennifer Schock-Bolles, Executive Director of PMAH. “We are truly grateful for his dedication to Project Mend-A-House and the work we do.” she concluded.
He represents PMAH on the Prince William Chamber’s Veteran’s Council and at the NOVA Veteran’s Association. He’s worked with numerous contractors and vendors, garnering their support for time and materials, and even engaged the assistance of Home Depot, the Warfighter’s Motorcycle Club, Warrior 360, and even his own grandson, to further our mission. This type of outreach within the community is one of his favorite parts of the work he does.
Ken lives in Haymarket with his wife, Lynn. They have four children.