Bloomfield native, Kenneth Leader, had always been interested in wood working through high school. In 1983, Leader relocated to San Diego, CA and then onto where he currently resides in Valley Center. Apart from his full time job at a Native American store, he continues to indulge in the art of woodworking.
Leader's family currently resides in Bloomfield. He comes from a family with a history of veterans. Leader decided that he would find a way to give back to the veterans through his love of woodworking.
Leader started making canes that would be donated to the Veterans Memorial that is being planned for the community of Bloomfield. His plan is to handcraft fifty canes that could be directly purchased or be purchased and donated to events that have silent auctions with the proceeds going to the memorial. The cost of the canes has been set at $200. Leader explained "the canes that I have sold at retail are anywhere from $200-$450 each."
For a $200 donation, the buyer will receive a cane of their choice along with a Certification of Authenticity and a Certificate of Honor if they would like to honor military members of their family.
Individuals may also give a $200 donation for sponsorship in which the cane would be donated to the Military Order of Purple Heart, Chapter 493 in Oceanside, CA. In this instance, the individual will receive a Certificate of Honor and a second certificate will accompany the cane during the Chapter 493 fundraiser.
Canes may also be purchased and donated to a fundraiser of their choice. The initial purchase would go towards the Veterans Memorial and additionally they would be helping out a fundraiser of their choice.
To date, Leader has crafted twenty one of the fifty canes and expected to have the remaining canes completed by the end of the year. The materials for his project have been donated by others with Leader donating his time. "Each cane take about 8 hours to complete," Leader said.
Leader feels that his project is giving back because telling the servicemen and woman thank you just isn't enough.
"Also this my way of honoring my dad, uncles and cousins who have served over the years," Leader said. "So just something I can do to say Thank You," he continues.
Proceeds from the donations will go towards the construction of Veterans Memorial. The memorial is expected to expected to be in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars.
"My figured show it's going to cost between $200-300,000 and we're not going to start until we have all of the money. So, I have some work to do," said Joe Skrivan. Skrivan says around $120,000 have been raised to date.
As for the monument itself, Skrivan feels that the financial burden to have a name on the memorial should not be placed on the veteran or the family.
"We will not start the project until we can pay for it," Skrivan continued. Names of Bloomfield veterans are still being accepted and should be directed towards Skrivan.
Leader would like to extend his appreciation to the folks that are making the project happen by donating diamond willow and other exotic and hard woods. Without the help and donations of the Roger and Allen Leader families here in Nebraska, Justin Davis Tasgoor from Furniture Design in California and to the laser engraving by Dale and Jeanne Pulver at Keepsake Creators, this drive would not have been made possible.
To follow along with the progress of the cane making, you can follow the project on Facebook at "Project TYFYS"