Mitchells find many ways to give back to community
By LARRY VAUGHT
Mollie Kregor, director of the Mitchell Family Foundation, says it’s impossible for anyone to fully appreciate what Jenna and Matthew Mitchell do to support so many charitable efforts in Lexington and Fayette County.
“They are just unbelievable people and not a lot of people know all they do because they don’t need or want any recognition. They just want to help others,” said Kregor.
Matthew Mitchell, the head women’s basketball coach at Kentucky, and his wife started their foundation in 2014. Samantha Bowie, the daughter of former UK All-American Sam Bowie, was the first director before Kregor took over in October of 2018.
Kregor, who is from Louisville, graduated from UK in 2016 with a degree in communications but had always been passionate about “giving back” to others. She came from an athletic family — her older sister played golf at Alabama, her younger sister played tennis and her brother was a baseball player. Mollie showed American Saddlebred horses — and even won a few world championships — but every time she competed it was also a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital as her passion for helping others started at an early age.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mitchells have been doing even more charitable work. “It’s really awesome what they have done on top of everything else they were already doing,” Kregor said.
The Mitchells partnered with Blue Grass Community Foundation/United Way of the Bluegrass Coranvirus Response Fund with a $35,000 matching gift for donations as well as a $10,000 donation. Over $400,00 has been raised with this fund to help those in need.
“They just do things out of the goodness of their heart,” Kregor aid. “They are two of the most giving and wonderful people I have ever been around. They love Lexington and if anyone needs help, they are there supporting them.
“They give back more than anybody knows. They are very passionate about character building, too, and that’s why we have three youth education programs we do in the Fayette County school system through their foundation that really are never talked about a lot but touch so many people.”
One is a 10-week program that instills character values in sixth-grade students. The foundation hires UK students to teach and work as mentors — last year 30 were hired — to talk about bullying, lying, stealing or other subjects that can impact sixth graders.
Another program is a summer project for at-risk and vulnerable high school students.
“We will take them to local business, visit colleges and other things that might not have been able to do but can benefit by doing,” Kregor aid.
The third program is a first-grade book project. Former Mercer University women’s coach Susie Garner wrote a children’s book based on teamwork that Kregor reads to students and then gives each one a book.
“It teaches the value of being a good teammate,” Kregor said.
The Mitchells have contributed $25,000 to the UK student emergency relief fund along with $132,000 to Fayette schools to provide backpack meals to needy students, cleaning supplies and utility assistance for families in need. The foundation also donates $60,000 to Project Elevate in the Fayette Schools. They have been involved with Nourish Lexington, a way for out of work hospital industry workers to make money delivering meals to those in need, and one other feeding program — EastEndFeeds — with personal donations not through the foundation.
If that’s not enough, the foundation has made contributions to The Well of Lexington, Children’s Charity of the Bluegrass, Lighthouse Ministries, Idle Hour Employee Relief Fund, Lexington Arts Resilience Initiative, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“They are just loving, giving people who really enjoy helping others and expect nothing in return except the joy of helping people,” Kregor said.
Remember a few weeks ago Matthew Mitchell had a chance to possibly get the vacant coaching job at Mississippi State. He quickly said he had no interest because of his love for Lexington – and this charitable work helps substantiate what he meant.
For more information on the Mitchell Family Foundation, go to https://www.mitchellfamily-foundation.org/