Seaford grad Kyle Kilgo follows in family's footsteps with service to Seaford community
By Lynn Schofer
There are people who talk about how things should change and then there are people who roll up their sleeves, get dirty, and take on the challenge to make a difference. Seaford High and Delaware State University graduate Kyle Kilgo is shoulder deep and loving the commitment he made to the Seaford community.
"I think I have always loved doing volunteer work, my mom, my grandfather, my dad all taught me that giving to the community is a good thing. My grandfather was a philanthropist," Kilgo said.
Kyle said his father, Layman "Butch" Kilgo played an important role in his life. "My dad is an integral part of everything I do; if there was a storm and someone needed help my father taught me the importance of helping others," he added.
Kilgo works with his mother Angelina Cannon, who explained that her parents led the way. "My parents, Leon and Ethel Williams, founded Refuge Temple Revival Center 51 years ago," said Cannon.
Apostle Leon Williams passed away in 2012 and Ethel Williams is now the pastor. "I serve administratively and assist my mother as the pastor," Cannon said.
Although not a current member, Kyle grew up in the church founded by his grandparents, "I moved to Chicago for several years working for JP Morgan. My friend and I had always dreamed of owning our own business. After a few years we took a leap of faith and I moved back to Delaware to open the business. I need a supplemental income because in the first three years of any business it is unlikely to make a profit. I did many jobs that built a network."
Kilgo eventually began to feel the desire to help and give back to the community where he grew up and mother and son opened The Community Outreach Program at the Refuge Temple Revival Center at 455 North Front Street in Seaford. "I talked about it for a long time and was tired of talking and wanted to do something," Kyle said. "I called my mom and asked her, what if we do something for the school, something for the kids, and asked what a good way would be to start." They agreed that a community outreach and soup kitchen is helping families in many aspects.
Kilgo said their outreach goes beyond serving food, "We are providing clothes, tents, furniture, and helping the kids at the school with school supplies, coats, gloves, socks, hats."
Kyle is proud to say in their first year the word has spread quickly and people started calling to help. "It is amazing and encouraging the response people that live all over the USA want to give back to Seaford. I am very thankful," he said.
Kilgo said his passion to help others began very early in his life, "At 8-9 I helped at a deaf and mentally challenged facility in Salisbury where my cousin worked. I always like helping special needs children; it is something I cared a lot about for a long time. My mom taught in the school district and I learned from her."
In high school Kyle took on Advanced Placement courses. "In my open time I would spend time with my mom in her classroom, I believe that is the burning desire inside of me." Kyle also excelled in sports, he lettered in four sports; football, wrestling, baseball, and golf. He went on to wrestle at Delaware State University and returned to help coach at Seaford and the Little Wrestlers.
"I think sports give you the drive, the dedication and determination that play a big role in getting the job done," said Kilgo.
Kilgo left Chicago over seven years ago, "When I came back it was important to have many avenues of financial flow because you usually don't make money the first few years in business. I would do side jobs, haul furniture, anything to do to make money and supplement income. Getting people excited and remembering where they come from is important."
Kilgo said it is tough to see the struggles the town is experiencing, "I love the fact that I grew up in Seaford but right now I cannot live in Seaford. Change is good but when I grew up Seaford it was a great point in time. Things cannot always remain the same but when you see drugs taking over your town or people you graduate with having a hard time even though they are working two or three jobs. The economy makes it hard to make ends meet and I think Seaford has been hit harder than many other places. The town is not dead and we have a lot of talent growing up but we need the opportunities here for them to break the cycle."
Kyle believes outreach work will help in many ways, "A lot of people in Seaford are doing some great things. It is hard to live here and support a family. There needs to be more opportunities."
The Soup Kitchen is open on Fridays from 3-8 p.m. "We also do holiday dinners, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Harvest, Easter," said Cannon. "This is a Christian home but we don't force it, when the opportunities come we do talk about it but we believe we have to reach the person where they are first before they can consider to believe something that you believe in. Our purpose is to meet their need and let them make the choice."
The cooking is done by Kyle, "While we serve he is preparing for the next week and he makes everything from scratch." During the summer months they are preparing for the colder time of year. "This is the time we are replenishing for when the weather begins to change. Sometimes people come in just for some place to sit and talk; or to be someplace where people won't look at them judgingly because they are homeless," said Kilgo.
The outreach also provides school supplies, coats, socks, hats, and other items for school age children, "I want to be organized and efficient and next year more things are in store to happen. We are looking forward to the next season but we do need stuff for the winter and school year."
Kilgo's background in financial banking, his passion to help others, and his experience in owning his own catering business, "Sussex County Barbeque", is like the perfect storm. "Coming back and forth to Seaford, I saw the change in the town and it was wearing on my heart and mind," he said.
The outreach may help those being served but Kyle points out the chain of love, "We like to have a conversation and we find out so many things about the family and their struggles, we want to help. It is encouraging for us, it is important for the children to be able to be involved in activities, sports, events and we as a community need to help. We are all in this together and tables could turn at any time."
The Refuge Temple Revival Center Outreach Center is currently compiling a reserve and collecting supplies all summer to be ready for the school year. Donations of coats will go out October. Donations may be dropped off at the Refuge Temple Revival Center at 455 North Front Street in Seaford. The Outreach Center would also welcome monetary donations to help and you may contact Kyle Kilgo on Facebook or through Messenger.
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