Government studies show that one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 is addicted to alcohol or drugs — a number roughly equal to the population of Texas. Yet only 11 percent receive treatment.
Ken McKenna Sr. was one of the more fortunate ones.
In 2006, he realized he needed help for a three-year alcohol addiction, triggered by a nasty divorce. A month later the founder of Tampa Bay Pools, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder in Florida, emerged from rehab feeling renewed and ready for a new approach to life.
“The day I sought treatment was the day my personal war with alcohol ended,” McKenna says. “I finally surrendered to win. I see things entirely differently now; my resentments are gone. ... My marriage could not be better. I’m thankful to God for all He has given me.”
To show his gratitude for the help he received in his time of need, McKenna now sits on the board of directors for the Women’s Resource Center of Tampa. The organization provides counseling, shelter, food, clothing and assistance, all free of charge, to anyone who needs a helping hand.
“It’s important to give back to those people who need our help now, especially in this down economy,” McKenna says.
Currently, the center serves more than 150 families a month, a number that continues to grow.
“I have met many of these individuals, and my heart goes out to them,” McKenna says. “I even accompanied a woman to court to get a restraining order on an abusive husband, solely to calm her fears.”
With so many demands on its resources, WRC is in need of help itself. Approximately 80 percent of the center’s budget comes from donations.
That’s where McKenna comes in. Besides being the chairman of the board at Tampa Bay Pools — his sons now run day-to-day operations — he chairs WRC’s annual fund-raising golf tournament.
Last year, there were 108 golfers and $19,000 was collected. The 2010 event was scheduled for Oct. 29, and McKenna hopes to top the previous year’s figures.
He also participates in other benefits for WRC. Last year, it was a dinner mystery show. “People said I should play a don because of the way I talk and look,” McKenna says with a laugh. “So I played a mafia godfather in the 1940s, and my wife was a gun moll.” His firm sponsored two tables for $1,500.
But that’s not all. “As a company, we feel the community has been very good to us, and it’s only fair that we give back a little wherever we can,” McKenna says. So Tampa Bay Pools also sponsors Little League, a junior football team, a soccer team and even a cheerleading club — and it donates money to other civic groups.
“I cannot tell you the feeling you receive when you help your fellow man,” McKenna says, “especially when your motives are right.”