Dedicated volunteer Jack Kingsley builds a legacy of giving
The American has raised about US$100,000 and developed strong ties with Habitat staff and families in Thailand
BANGKOK (March 12, 2014) — For more than a decade, American business executive Jack Kingsley has dedicated two weeks a year to building houses with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program. One of his favorite destinations has been Thailand, where he has formed deep and meaningful friendships with people whose lives have been changed by a decent home.
In March 2013, Kingsley made his 13th trip with Habitat, leading a team of Global Village volunteers to Pathum Thani province, central Thailand. This year, he has headed to Takeo, Cambodia, for a Habitat build.
As a senior sales consulting director for Oracle Corporation, a multinational computer technology firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States, Kingsley is accustomed to managing people and budgets. The work he does for Habitat reflects his commitment to helping others in need.
“I believe that home is the basis for a good quality of life,” said Kingsley, who is 45.
Through the Global Village builds, Kingsley sees firsthand how much difference a decent house makes for each family and for the entire community. In his previous 13 trips, Kingsley and his teams had raised about US$100,000. The funds were mainly raised by Kingsley with help from a few of his team members. The funds and voluntary labor helped served more than 50 families with either new houses or home renovations.
In addition to Thailand, Kingsley has led building teams to Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia and Mongolia. Thailand, though, has developed a special place in Kingsley’s heart.
“There are many things that I admire here,” he said, “including culture and tradition, the kindness of the people, their simple lifestyle. And here, I have lovely new friends.”
A connection is forged
Kingsley made his first Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Thailand in August 2001, when he helped build houses in northern Chiang Mai province. In 2003, he led a team to build two more houses in northeastern Nakorn Ratchasima province. The following year, he was the leader of a team who built two houses in northeastern Udon Thani province.
And then in 2005, he joined disaster-recovery efforts in Phang Nga province after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 left thousands of people homeless in southern Thailand.
On his second trip to Thailand, Kingsley first met Habitat site supervisor Anucha Nakprasith, who is known by his nickname ‘Great’. Working side-by-side as they built houses in Nakorn Ratchasima province, the two became fast friends and have maintained a strong connection.
When Great got married in 2007, his American friend flew 11,265 kilometers to attend.
In 2012, Kingsley was reunited with Great for a Global Village build in an Islamic community in Rayong province. By that time, Kingsley was much more familiar with Thai customs and could communicate with homeowners using simple phrases such as “sawasdee krub” (“Hello”) and “aroi mak” (“Delicious!”).
At the 2012 build, Kingsley also had a special celebration for the homeowner’s birthday, much to the delight of everyone on the crew and in the community.
Kingsley’s commitment to Southeast Asia goes beyond merely building friendships. With each Global Village trip, he has increased his fundraising efforts and gradually become more successful. After raising just a few thousand dollars for the first few trips, he used the Share.Habitat website to garner US$25,000 from 127 donors for the Rayong build in 2012. Four houses were subsequently built in Udon Thani.
While Jack Kingsley is an outstanding example of the impact that one person can have on eliminating poverty housing, he is not alone in his passion. Since 1998, more than 18,000 volunteers have worked with Habitat for Humanity in Thailand. These volunteers contributed valuable time and labor, which helped more than 10,800 Thai families to have decent homes to live.