When Ken Neumann and his wife Julie started Cigars and More in Libertyville 14 years ago, he never dreamed he'd also be board president of a local woman's shelter.
After volunteering to build some walls at the Lake County Haven shelter with his local Rotary club, Neumann asked then-board President Cindy Harger if there was anything else he could do. She told him that they were looking for board members.
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"I thought she was crazy," Neumann said, "She saw something in me that I didn't. It's been a great experience ever since."
He said owning a business which brings in largely male customers, along with being involved with a 100 percent women's organization provides some needed balance in his life.
"When I became involved with the Haven it gave me the opportunity to become a conduit," Neumann said. "My customers find out about the Haven and give at our events. It's enriched my world because you realize how lucky you are to have what you have."
Neumann's first enterprise was selling women's golf equipment. After Neumann started selling cigars in his booth, that part of the business took off.
"My wife and I started the cigar shop 14 years ago," Neumann said. "It was pretty much a sink or swim kind of thing. We had just ourselves and one employee."
Now Neumann employs 11 people and has two stores. His stores offer over 1,000 different boxes of cigars.
"It's a family-oriented business. We are dealing directly with the manufacturers and their families who have made these cigars for generations."
Neumann feels like he is part of the community and making a difference.
"It's not just sitting here on Milwaukee Avenue and taking money. Being a part of the community is what I strive for. I believe you reap what you sow," he said.
"Ken does so much for this organization," said Laura Sabino, executive director of the Lake County Haven. "He cares passionately about our clients and seeing them advance in life and get independent again."
"I was always taught, use your time, talents and treasures so if you can do something a little bit, a little bit helps a lot of people," Neumann said.