Rex and Connie Kennemer Transform a Personal Tragedy by Founding CAHM
As newlyweds in Tucson, AZ, Rex and Connie Kennemer focused on church music. Connie taught piano, wrote and recorded her own music and wrote a book about her songs. After they moved to the Poway area, Rex began leading music at Pomerado Christian Church in Poway. In their late 20’s, they had a wonderful son Todd, who graduated from Rancho Bernardo High School in 1998. In her early 40’s Connie received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which prompted her to join the San Diego chapter of the MS Society, an organization she and Rex have supported since 1994.
In 2005 the unthinkable happened. Their only son Todd, a twenty-five-year-old who had battled a bi-polar disorder for a year, took his own life. Reeling from his death and feeling compelled to honor his memory, Connie and Rex produced a music and arts benefit to honor his memory. Soon after, Connie and Rex founded Community Alliance for Healthy Minds (CAHM) in order to enable the community to come together to support mental health and suicide prevention and to create safe environments for those affected by mental health issues to find the help they need. The 7th Annual CAHM Forum, a daylong gathering to promote mental health and suicide prevention, will take place on Saturday, May 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Abraxas High School in Poway.
According to Rex, “Since 2005 our volunteer work has focused on mental health and suicide prevention and the well-being of at-risk students and young adults.” Connie and Rex have focused their efforts on helping Abraxas youth, supporting seven suicide prevention programs and facilitating monthly support groups for Survivors of Suicide Loss (www.sossd.org). Additionally, they encourage others to mentor youth and care for senior citizens, particularly identifying with programs like Seniors Helping Our Kids (SHOK) that accomplish both.
When not volunteering, Connie and Rex enjoy Old Poway Park, Lake Poway, Girlfriends Boutique, Roo Automotive, Mexican food, Mojalet dance performances at The Vine, Bernardo Winery and getting close to the ocean on Connie’s scooter. When asked what was surprising about them, Rex responded, “We’re the same age half the year. But Connie doesn’t look her age, and I don’t act mine.” One could also argue that their history is surprising: they’ve remained committed to each other through illness and the death of their child and have responded to his death by improving the lives of others.[box title=”At A Glance” color=”#333333″]
Names: Rex Kennemer (61) and Connie Kennemer (60)
Community: Playmor Townhomes in Rancho Bernardo for 25 years
Occupation: Rex – Church music and leadership development; Connie – Writing and counseling
Volunteer: Mental health and suicide prevention, San Diego Chapter of the MS Society
Family: Todd was our only child. We have no family in the area, so, we “adopt” our neighbors and friends as family, especially during the holidays.