Kenney Machinery Employees Make Service Trip to Mexico to Build a Home for Needy Family

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Twelve employees from Indianapolis-based Toro turf equipment distributor Kenney Machinery recently traveled to Mexico to participate in a home build with Homes of Hope, a program run by the Christian missionary organization Youth With A Mission.

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“It was an experience that I will treasure, and I’m looking forward to accompanying many others from our company on the next home build.” .” –Kevin Koss

For nearly two years, Kenney Machinery Corporation--a turf equipment company based in Indianapolis--has been creating a culture of servant leadership among employees through a partnership with the local nonprofit organization trueU. As part of that leadership development program, twelve employees of the company, including company CEO Mike Kenny, traveled to Mexico to help build a home for a needy family.

The trip was organized by Youth With a Mission (YWAM), a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions that runs a wide variety of programs around the world. One of their programs, Homes of Hope, builds free houses for impoverished families around the world. Last year, Kenney Machinery General Manager Angie Hubbell participated in a home build in Ensenada, Mexico with that program and had such a good experience that she convinced Mike Kenney to organize a return trip just for Kenney Machinery employees in 2017.

“Angie’s description of her experience in Mexico last year left no doubt in my mind that this trip was something we needed to do as a company,” said Mike. “Aside from the fact that we would be forever changing the lives of a family for the better, it would give our employees a chance to bond outside of work while continuing to develop a culture of servant leadership in our company.”

In addition to Mike and Angie, other Kenney Machinery employees making the trip included Controller Jon Treadway, Sales and Marketing Manager Kevin Koss, Store Manager Thomas Cangelosi, Landtech Design Manager Jim Davis, and Store Manager Jeff Linder. Although each person who made the trip had their own reasons for going, Jon Treadway expressed a common sentiment among all the participants: “It was a no-brainer to be a part of a home build to me. Before going, and even though I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I was so excited and honored to be a part of something like this,” Jon said.

The group arrived in Ensenada on Thursday, August 10th and traveled to a base camp maintained by Youth with a Mission, where they would stay for the duration of their trip. That evening, they attended an orientation session with three leaders from Homes of Hope who explained the history of the program and the impact it has had around the world, so that participants would understand how the work they’d be doing the next few days fit into the larger mission of the organization. They also explained the logistics of how the actual home build would work so that participants would know what to expect for the next few days.

The next morning, after eating breakfast at the base camp the Kenney team drove about 30 minutes to a remote area where they would be building the home. For the most part, the people in the area lived in simple structures that were little more than shacks they had built with whatever materials they could find, including tarps and sheets. The level of poverty was described by Kevin Koss as “staggering, and very sad to see.”

The site where the team would be building the home had been prepared in advance. A 16x20 foot concrete slab had been poured earlier in the week, and the building materials were already on site.

Once they arrived on the site, the group split into smaller teams that worked on different parts of the house. One team assembled the walls, another worked on the roof, another team worked on painting, and so on. Homes of Hope has developed a very efficient process for building these types of homes, and as a result everything went very smoothly. “I was surprised our group of amateurs built a nice little home in a day and a half with almost no glitches,” said Thomas Cangelosi. “You would expect something to not line up or turn on at the end but everything turned out great.” The group had the entire home completed by Saturday afternoon.

While the home was being completed on Saturday, some members of the team accompanied the family who would be living in the home on a shopping trip to a nearby Walmart. The family was allowed to purchase whatever they wanted to furnish their new home with money donated by Kenney Machinery and its employees.

Once the family returned and the home was completed, the entire team gathered together and had the opportunity to share with the family through a translator what the experience had been like for them. The family then entered their new home for the first time and had a few minutes by themselves to see the home. They then received the builders as the first official guests in their home, and had the chance to talk about what the experience was like from their perspective.

At the end of the trip, the Kenney Machinery team gathered for a final dinner where they debriefed the experienced and discussed what it meant for each of them. “For myself, the main takeaway was how grateful the people there were for the very limited resources they had,” said Kevin Koss. “We live in a country that is so focused on getting more and more ‘stuff’ while these families are happy to have a job that they can go to and earn $67 a week. It was an experience that I will treasure, and I’m looking forward to accompanying many others from our company on the next home build.”

Indeed, there are already plans in the works for a third trip with Homes of Hope for Kenney Machinery employees in 2018. In the meantime, the bonds that were formed between employees on this year’s trip will allow them to perform at a higher level in their day-to-day work as they serve Kenney Machinery’s customers throughout the Midwest.

About Kenney Machinery Corporation

Kenney Machinery Corporation is a turf equipment distributor providing sales and service throughout Indiana and Kentucky. Founded before the turn of the 20th century, the company has been a Toro distributor for over 70 years and has previously been recognized by Toro as the #1 turf equipment distributor in the country. Kenney Machinery currently supplies new and pre-owned turf equipment to golf courses, municipalities, sports fields, educational institutions and local dealerships throughout the region, and also helps customers maintain turf equipment using their unique Count On It Method™.

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