Rebuilding Generations Brings Together the Old and New
by Brittany Sailors, photos by Jim Peterson
Idaho is a state with no shortage of car enthusiasts, as is evidenced by the nearly twenty auto shows scheduled within the next thirty days alone. Kevin Keep is among those who consider themselves classic car aficionados. Kevin, a local business owner and community activist, started a youth program that would merge his love for vintage with a desire to give back to the community. The program, coined Rebuilding Generations, serves youth by providing the opportunity to learn the art of auto restoration alongside seasoned industry veterans. The therapeutic nature of the activity and the bonds formed when working toward a common goal are what lay the groundwork for healing and positive changes in the lives of all participants.
A self-proclaimed motor-head nearly all his life, Kevin knew that he could rebuild more than broken vehicles by bringing together two generations that rarely see eye to eye. In 2013, he founded Rebuilding Generations, an auto restoration program with youth ministry at its core. The program pairs “plugged-in” youth with “unplugged” adults in the hopes that both will have something to learn from the other. Kevin’s perceptions are spot-on, as the generation gap has never been wider than it is today when Baby- Boomers and Millennials form the bookends of our workforce. “With the schools taking away programs like shop classes, home economics, and many others, it is our responsibility as parents and mentors to ensure that the next generation is equipped with the education and tools they need to be successful,” says Kevin. “Our goal is that they will do the same for their children and the generations to come.”
Young adults are referred to Rebuilding Generations from churches, counselors, and other youth ministries throughout the state, often with emotional hurdles to overcome. A transformation occurs in the lives of both youth and mentor when committing to a long-term project requiring dedication, communication, and a fair amount of elbow grease.
Kevin’s greatest challenge in running the program is in procuring proper funding. Anyone who’s ever attempted to restore a classic car is familiar with the cost of having it done right. Kevin relies primarily on donations from a few financial contributors, as well as sponsor-donated parts. “Our goal is to get to a point where we can build cars that we own and auction off to help fund the program and ensure its future,” says Kevin.
Rebuilding Generations has placed approximately ten participants in jobs, two of which have joined the military. All three complete restorations have been shown at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas, NV.
What’s most important to Kevin are the numerous relationships repaired through the “common ground” found in a love for cars.
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