In May 2011, Jason Kinzler passed away while running the Fifth Third River Bank Run. A pillar of health and fitness and a dedicated family man, Jason left behind his wife Kristi and three young children, ages 10, 8 and 6.
In 2012, Kristi and some of the Kinzler's closest friends founded the Jason Kinzler Family First Foundation (JKFFF) to honor Jason's commitment to putting family first. Ever since, the foundation has provided financial assistance to families with minor children who have experienced the unexpected loss of a primary caregiver.
Ahead of the foundation's 10th anniversary fundraising dinner, West Michigan Woman sat down with Kristi Kinzler and Patty McCormick, JKFFF Executive Director, to learn more about what's to come.
How is JKFFF's mission fulfilled throughout the community?
In the last 10 years, the JKFFF has provided almost $1 million in financial assistance to families in West Michigan who are simultaneously experiencing financial challenges and tremendous grief. The foundation has provided help with rent/mortgage, utilities bills, necessary car or home repairs, day care and funeral expenses. With our help, families have been able to not only survive but also revive and create a "new normal."
With the foundation reaching a 10-year milestone in 2022, what do you hope the next 10 years bring?
Our goal is to serve more families who need time to grieve while facing immediate financial challenges, and to serve families beyond just financial support, linking them with organizations that can help with mental health, childcare and educational support.
Last year, we partnered with GRCC to create a scholarship fund to help students from Kinzler Foundation families with tuition costs. We also want to expand our reach to communities who may not yet be aware of what we offer with a goal to expand our assistance beyond Kent County.
Staying in touch with the families we serve is an important part of the Kinzler Foundation. We want to not only offer them financial support, but are looking to create programs that keep us connected; we welcome community partnerships to achieve this goal.
How could people get involved with the foundation?
People can get involved in a variety of ways. Volunteer to connect with family applicants, donate via our website, create a fundraiser to benefit the foundation (like a golf outing or other sporting event, birthday parties, etc.). We welcome all creative fundraising ideas!
And of course, join us at our annual dinner fundraiser this October, featuring the families we have assisted and keynote speaker Shannon Cohen.
The JKFFF Annual Dinner Fundraiser takes place on October 26, at 6 p.m. at Frederik Meijer Gardens. To learn more about getting involved, donating and purchasing event tickets, visit kinzlerfoundation.org or contact Patricia at [email protected]
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor of West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec '22 issue of West Michigan Woman.