By Philip Case
After retirement, Kenney Dunavent found himself with time on his hands — and a desire to help others.
“I see a lot of need in this community,” Dunavent said, “a whole lot of need.”
Dunavent, 66, has lived in Frankfort since his family moved from Owen County before he entered sixth grade at Bridgeport Elementary School. He retired a few years ago after 40 years at Frankfort Regional Medical Center, where he was a respiratory therapist, having started that department at the hospital.
A member of Bridgeport Christian Church, Dunavent says most of his volunteer work comes through the church. He sees a lot of people who are members of community churches volunteering along with members of local civic clubs.
“My main interests are the food pantry and the soup kitchen,” Dunavent said. “I do a regular shift at the kitchen and then fill in whenever Ann (Morse) tells me she needs me.”
Morse is the chair of the church’s outreach committee and coordinates volunteers who serve when Bridgeport’s time comes around.
“It tells us in the Bible we’re to serve and give back,” Dunavent said. “I don’t want to look like I’m bragging about it.”
Sharing his story might encourage others to volunteer, he said.
“We sometimes serve 80 or so people a day at the soup kitchen,” he said. “There are the ‘regulars,’ but, too, there are those who are just down on their luck and need something to eat.”
Dunavent said it’s “incredible” how much local grocery stores and restaurants help with items, particularly for the soup kitchen.
His other passion, the Franklin County Emergency Food Pantry, is in constant need, too.
“We have a hard time keeping items on the shelves at the food pantry,” Dunavent said. “There are days there’s practically nothing. If people would do no more than pick up a couple of things when they’re shopping and donate them, that would be a huge help.”
Fellow church members Larry Hayden and Sulena Bryant are teaming with Dunavent to raise bell peppers on Hayden’s Evergreen Road property. They will be used by the soup kitchen.
“We’ve got out 150 or so plants,” he said. “The peppers are small, and I don’t know if there’s time for them to make it to harvest this year. Next year, I hope we can get an earlier start raising a garden to produce things we can use at the soup kitchen.”
Dunavent said he’d been asked about taking part-time jobs since his retirement, but he prefers volunteering and having more control of his time.
“I like volunteering; it makes one feel good,” he said.