Bethany Kennedy: The Secretly Incredible Humanitarian
From Jeremy: I want you to meet Josh and Bethany Kennedy. After finding themselves homeless, friends, family and strangers reached out to help them. And they learned the power of love and helping those in need. This is their story about starting a non-profit called Klothe-a-Kid and stepping into their secretly incredible story.
JS: You and your husband run a nonprofit from your living room. What is your mission with Klothe-a-Kid (KAK)?
Bethany: We are a non-profit that helps meet the needs of others by loving them. Our mission statement is this:
Our mission is to be a courageous and contagious, in your face, bold, genuine, outpouring of the Father’s Love. We desire to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the hurting, neglected, forgotten, hungry, abused, addicted, and oppressed. To seek them out, meet them and love them right where they are, just as Jesus would do, and to offer a glimpse of what His Kingdom looks like.
JS: You mention meeting people where they are, what does this look like for you?
Bethany: There are people that will never step foot in our churches. They won’t come to where we are for many reasons. Financial obstacles. Physical distance. Shame.
We believe that our job is to go to them. We go to their physical location. Where they live. And then we also meet them where they are spiritually and emotionally. This is the hardest and most important part of what we do.
We start with their basics needs such as clothing. When we show up with free clothes, it is the first step in developing a relationship. Once we have built trust, then we can help them in other ways.
Our hope is to tell them that Jesus loves them by first showing them that we love them. And through us they can catch this glimpse of the kingdom.
Bethany: The clothes just show up. When my husband and I decided that we would do this, we began by just telling a few friends. Like most of us, their closets were full of stuff they don’t need and don’t wear. So they gave them to us.
I find that when you are willing to take other people’s junk, they can be very generous. Our friends kept telling their friends, and it gradually grew. We rarely ask for donations. They just show up.
Before we started we wondered where everything would come from. In fact, this kept us from starting for a long time. We thought we needed to have every problem solved. We learned later that the most important thing to do is start, and then we discovered how to solve the problems.
When we do a clothing drop, we go to those with the need. We load up our trailer and then find an area where we know there are people with these needs. We show up and put clothes out on the side of the street. We then go around and knock on people’s doors to let them know that we are there and we have free clothes.
JS: And people show up?
Bethany: Do they ever. The sad thing is that many of the children show up by themselves. Most of the time these children are looking for clothes for their parents, the very ones who neglect them.
JS: Why did you start KAK?
Bethany: We both felt We needed to do something different with our lives, but didn’t quite now what it was. Then God showed us by sending a devastating house fire.
Two days after we moved into a new house, and before our insurance was final, our house, with everything we owned in it, completely burned. We lost 90% of our belongings including our clothes, shoes, socks, underwear, coats, soap, toothbrushes, blankets, beds, furniture, pillows, toys, etc. Everything.
All this, while literally having no money in our pockets or bank. We were left homeless and stuffless with 3 kids and one on the way. And it was Christmas. Talk about a big pill to swallow. Try that one?! No, wait, don’t!
For the first time we were the ones in need. Then our friends and family showed up. Even strangers. They helped us back on our feet. They gave us clothes and food and most importantly love. What a blessing they were!
I realize now why God allowed me to feel a few moments of such desperation and dependance. He wanted me to sympathize with the thousands of people all around me who live in this same need. These people are my neighbors and they need my help. God wanted me to step up and to help clothe and feed and love them just as others had done for me.
Bethany: Love! This is the mod important and powerful thing we can offer. To love people. To care about them. To take the time to find the value in them. It is actually easier to offer clothes and food to people than it is to really love them.
But when we do choose to love them, it can change everything.
One of the ways that we love people is to offer them clothes and food and blankets and shoes and hugs and prayers. We offer them a listening ear. We offer them encouragement. But if we do all of these things without love, then it doesn’t work.
JS: How can we help KAK?
Bethany: We need prayer. It can be emotionally and physically draining at times. This is when we have to dig deeper still to let His love show through us. Prayers definitely help get us through.
We need people to help to help us love others. We need people to join us when we go out and share. We need people to help us fold, sort, and organize clothes. We need help with follow up visits with the families we meet. We always need donations. We need money to help pay for everything we need to get clothes to people.
JS: Bethany, thank you for sharing. Thank you for being an example of someone who chooses to love and to do a hard work for the benefit of other people. Thank you for being that somebody.
Have you ever experienced this kind of need? Have you ever experienced this kind of love?
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