From Toledo to Vietnam: Steve Kennedy's Gifts



Steve Kennedy has seen the cost of addiction.

He saw it when he was 13 years old, growing up in Toledo, Ohio in an Irish Catholic family. His father was a successful tax attorney, and there’s a good chance his clients never knew he was a high-functioning alcoholic. His dad died at just 49 years old from complications related to his disease, leaving his mom to take care of Brian, Eileen, Jane, Mary, Steve and his younger sister, Claire.

He saw it four years ago, when a man knocked on his car window while Steve was waiting for his Thai food in Lynnwood. The man started by asking for directions to I-5, then showed Steve the gun, asked for Steve’s money and phone. The man seemed desperate, anxious. An addict. Police never found him.

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Steve Kennedy has also seen the joy of generosity.

After his father died, an anonymous donor – identified later as one of his dad’s wealthy clients – pledged to pay for college for all six Kennedy kids, and so he did. Every year when Steve was at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, his mom would make him write a letter to their benefactor about his experiences: his classes and career interests. His gratitude.

After Steve married Aimee Do, whose family immigrated to the US from Vietnam when she was 11, they decided to give back, to help Vietnamese kids pay for school. It started with their own private donations, but has now grown to the Vietnam Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) that funds all levels of education for kids in Vietnam. They’ve added a milk program, to help children get proper nutrition.

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Steve Kennedy has seen the problems and decided to act.

Steve has served on the Board of Directors of Volunteers of America Western Washington for over three years, and volunteered at food drive-through sites in Lynnwood and the Everett Mall. He’s partially retired after a successful career as a civil attorney, and his two girls are now in their twenties. “When you’re fortunate and doing well, you have an obligation to give back.”

“This is my community. And I think it’s important that we look after our fellow citizens who are struggling or disadvantaged in some way. Whether it’s homelessness, food insecurity, or mental illness, I want to see people thrive and succeed.”

For those who consider volunteering, Steve shares, ''I think I get more out of it than I put into it. It’s been a real privilege. You’re doing something good for other people, and that’s it’s own reward. You feel like you’re making a difference.”

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Steve’s story is one part of our 2021 Volunteer Appreciation campaign. To learn more or discover how you can give back, visit: voaww.org/volunteer.

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