Eric Kinkel, who has had a Palatine home-based business teaching guitar since 2003, said he has no military ties but wanted to provide something of value to a veteran.
So Kinkel, 56, created the Giving Back program to show his appreciate for their sacrifices by providing free acoustic guitar lessons and a free guitar. But getting the program underway took some doing.
He began earlier this year by reaching out to local music stores for their support. Store owners or managers said they would prefer if Kinkel just join their own ranks of teachers in order to do the program. Kinkel declined, saying he wanted to remain independent. Then the Target store in Palatine agreed to participate and provide a guitar package valued at about $200.
Kinkel spread the word of his program via Facebook. Jeremy Renteria, 29, of Oak Lawn was selected among several possible candidates. Kinkel verified Renteria's veteran status with help from SaluteInc.org, which said Renteria had served 5 years in the Navy with three tours in the Persian Gulf during Operation Enduring Freedom. Renteria was an aviation machinist third class, Kinkel said.
"I believe Target's manager understood the sincere desire for 'Giving Back' to military personnel," Kinkel said. "I know Target understands and, as a community store, is committed to helping small businesses, such as myself, and the affirmation to help veterans combined, made a perfect fit for a trustworthy donation."
Kinkel is known for his local concerts in Schaumburg and elsewhere, and for his friendship with legendary rocker, Ted Nugent, and his mother, Marion Dorothy Nugent, the advice columnist for the Illinois Entertainer. Kinkel helped to spearhead the monument to "Ma" Nugent at Durty Nellie's in Palatine in 2006.
"Over the years I have visited with Ted, whether at his ranch in Michigan or backstage at shows," Kinkel said. "We keep in touch regularly via email and text messaging. Ted frequently does both small and large favors for me. When I informed him of my 'Giving Back' program for a veteran, he replied with great enthusiasm that he would gladly sign the guitar for the recipient."
Kinkel said he is self-taught and has studied various musicians and their styles over the years. So his performances and songs have ranged from classical to rock to folk to country, he said.
"I began my musical musings at the age of 12 and didn't begin writing my own music until I was 16, strictly on piano at the time," he said. "I didn't transition over to guitar until 2 years later when I picked up a nylon stringed classical guitar. A year later, I bought a newer Applause brand, a knock off and cheaper version of the Ovation bowl-back guitars, I purchased a 6-stringed steel Acoustic guitar. I never stopped from there. My drive was, and still is, unstoppable."
He was part of the rock band Lost Nation and now has a band called Acoustic Thunder. He has also recorded his own albums with his original songs and performed at various night clubs and other venues. He also collaborated with other musicians on various fundraising concerts, including some for his sister, who eventually passed away from multiple sclerosis.
While Kinkel, who had a heart condition, did not serve in the military. But he felt strongly about doing the program to provide something of value to a those now in service or are veterans.
"I have little to give to others," he said. "But through my musical abilities I could reach out and teach those service members and could bring great happiness and satisfaction to an individual who has returned home after serving our country with admirable honor. It is I who admires their service and wants to give back."
Sweet new position
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