Kemp family volunteers for Vail Valley Habitat |

Kemp family volunteers for Vail Valley Habitat

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyJimmy Kemp, left, son of the late, part-time Vail Valley resident Jack Kemp, talks about his father's work and legacy with Habitat for Humanity during his seven year tenure on the board of directors as Jack's wife Joanne, center, and Ron Terwilliger, center left, chairman of Habitat for Humanity International listen during a tribute to him Friday at Fox Hollow in Edwards. Kemp raised more then $700 million for the organisation during his time with them.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Jack Kemp, a former part-time Vail Valley resident, was the jack of all trades – from politician to family man to humanitarian to football player – he did it all and did it well.

One thing he did particularly well was philanthropy, especially through his work for Habitat for Humanity. Kemp served on Habitat for Humanity International’s board for seven years and raised more than $700 million for the nonprofit organization during that time. Habitat built more than 150,000 homes for low-income families during that same time period.

Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties and Habitat for Humanity International honored Kemp Friday with a ceremony at the Fox Hollow Habitat site in Edwards, where six families are currently living and several more are scheduled to move in. His wife, Joanne Kemp, was there along with Jimmy Kemp, their son, and local political officials as well as Habitat International board members.

Jimmy Kemp and his sons, Jonah and Marco, spent the day at the site helping build one of the homes. Jimmy Kemp said it was special to be there with his two boys to show them all the hard work that goes into building a home, and also the work it takes to care for people – lessons Jimmy Kemp learned from his father.

Jack Kemp came from a working class family and worked his way up, but never forgot his roots, Jimmy Kemp said.

“He understood what a great country this is that gives us opportunities,” Jimmy Kemp said. “And nobody can achieve their dreams without help.”

There were quotes from Jack Kemp posted all around the outdoor area where everyone gathered Saturday – inspirational quotes that summed up why he was so compelled to give to charity.

“Those of us who are blessed have an obligation to be a blessing to others,” read one of Jack Kemp’s quotes.

John Cerniglia, a Habitat International senior director, came in from Atlanta to be in Edwards for the event. He said he wouldn’t have missed it, because Kemp was such an important person to the organization.

“He cared deeply about people,” Cerniglia said. “Jack Kemp was a larger than life leader in our industry.”

Ron Terwilliger, chair of the board of Habitat International, said Kemp was a leader in the industry, leaving behind contributions that will be felt for years to come.

Marco Kemp, 8, summed it up pretty well on his morning interview on TV 8. When TV host Tricia Swensen asked him what it meant to him to be a part of building a Habitat home for someone, his answer blew his father away.

“He said, ‘If a person doesn’t have a home, they’re going to die,” Jimmy Kemp said.

Death might be an extreme way of looking at it, but it’s that attitude that every person matters enough to be sheltered that Jack Kemp’s grandson must have picked up from him.

“There is a kind of victory in good work, no matter how humble,” read one of Jack Kemp’s quotes.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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