The Kevin Williams Hometown Concert raised more than $87,000 Saturday night at First Baptist Church in Russell Springs.
Williams, a Russell County native who openly shares that he was “the kid who didn’t have a coat in the wintertime,” has made it an annual tradition to return to his hometown to help the next generation. The acclaimed performer brought with him Wes Hampton and The Gaither Band, Matthew Holt, and The Crossroads Quartet this year.
The money raised will be distributed to Russell County preschoolers through 12th graders through each school’s Family Resource and Youth Services Center directors.
“Kevin is very specific with us — when he first started this, he said, ‘I only want it to go to student needs,’” explains Gordon Lester, family resource director for Salem and Russell Springs Elementary Schools. “We purchase anything from clothing for children, food for families in need, we’ve put gas in cars for people to take kids to a doctor, we’ve bought eyeglasses for kids, and in certain situations, we’ve paid electric bills and water bills. All that is left up to the discretion of the Family Resource Center and Youth Service Center director at the school.”
Lester says it’s important to him and the county’s other directors to respect Williams’ wishes and make sure the money goes to those truly in need.
“We say ‘no’ sometimes, because we try to be very protective of the money,” Lester says. “The money is in an account at the board, it can only be used for the needs of the children, and it has to go through three or four sets of hands and get approval before we can have access to it. We try to be very careful with it because he trusts us with it — we try to be good stewards.”
The money, which ended up totaling $87,145.44, allows Russell County to better serve its most vulnerable young people, and has become an object of respectful jealousy across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“We have people call us all the time, because our funding is limited, and other counties across the state will call and ask how we can do what we do,” Lester explains, “and the answer is Kevin Williams. We bless many, many kids throughout the school year. He is so genuine, has such a heart for these kids because he grew up here, and we’re just so appreciative.”