By Nancy Winckler-Zuniga
Originally published in The Florida Times-Union
Just look at Kenneth Reddick’s calendar, and you know helping young people is a passion. He spends every moment he can doing whatever he can to encourage and support them.
Reddick is a Key Honor Rows volunteer for the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation and United Way of Northeast Florida. The organizations give economically and socially disadvantaged children the opportunity to earn a seat at a Jaguars home game by accomplishing community-service and good-behavior goals. As part of his duties, Reddick helps chaperones supervise the almost 4,000 students who attend during a season.
“It’s almost like taking them to Disney World,” Reddick said. “When they come down for lunch, and they get their Bubba Burger, their Gatorade, their cookies, their T-shirt, they’re like, ‘This is for me? And it’s free?’ Heaven forbid they run into a player or Jaxson de Ville when they come in the gate — to them it’s like running into Mickey or Minnie!”
But helping out at Game Day is just part of Reddick’s involvement with the Honor Rows program. His initial volunteering began with the Jaguars Foundation and Honor Rows in 1997 — shortly after the Jaguars came to town — as part of the allocation committee, which reviews organizations involved in submitting student’s names for this special treat.
The NFL is very involved with charitable giving projects all over the country, and the Honor Rows program is a unique, local effort to encourage students to do well in school.
“I like the fact that, in addition to what they get that day, they set goals,” Reddick said. “They feel accomplished at having reached those goals. It’s almost like the icing on the cake.”
Growing up, setting goals and helping others was his way of life in Jacksonville.
“My mom instilled servanthood in me when I was a kid,” Reddick said. “She was always trying to do things for those who did not have, didn’t know how to ask and needed a boost. She was like St. Nick.”
Reddick said his mother used her cooking to help out, whether it was sending a plate down to a neighbor in need or baking and doing fundraisers so neighborhood children could go to camp.
“Jacksonville’s home,” Reddick said. “I was born on Church Street. We had to move when they started putting in [Interstate] 95. I lived right off Kings Road after that.”
College and time in the Air Force pulled Reddick away from the city for a few years.
“When I returned to Jacksonville, I became a Scoutmaster, [joined] Junior Achievement … any number of youth-type programs,” he said. “To me, it’s always been about servanthood, servanthood above self.”
As his insurance business became more established and his wife joined him in running the agency, he was able to do more. He credits her with making his volunteer efforts possible.
“She’s been very considerate in our 47 years of marriage,” he said.
Reddick is actively involved with Journey to Manhood through his church, the MaliVai Washington Foundation, the Boy Scouts and the Riverside Arts Council, among other projects.
He goes out of his way to support students who might not be recognized through other agencies or programs, giving small personal donations to those who improve their grades. Wherever he feels he can make a difference, he steps in. It’s why his calendar is so full.
“My parents instilled that in me,” he said. “The Lord has blessed me, now do whatever you can do to lift someone’s spirits. Help them be successful.”