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Special People Like Gene McKown Working to Make the World Better in 2021 & Beyond

Gene McKown

January 12, 2021

Ideal Homes and Neighborhoods’ co-founder Gene McKown is a shining example of someone who will go to great lengths to take care of others. For that calling to help others, Gene has been nominated for the national Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award.

Not only a thriving business owner and leader, Gene and his wife have also distinguished themselves as philanthropists who regularly and generously support others. For over 50 years, Gene has also given time, energy and constant support to hundreds of non-profit organizations.

As a result, he has positively impacted thousands of lives.

This includes the many individuals and families who have successfully transitioned out of homelessness because of the interim homes provided at Food and Shelter’s McKown Village in Norman. In addition to personally contributing $110,000, Gene raised another $3.25 million from the community to build 32 fully furnished 400 to 800-square foot cottages for families to live in while they work to build a sustainable future for themselves.

Gene’s philosophy emphasizes helping those who have grown up in difficult circumstances and therefore may need additional support to navigate the world around them. He is active in organizations that provide food, clothing and shelter for children who lack them and that work to increase careers and job growth for those who need a new start in life.

The Judy McKown Activity Center in Norman is named after Gene’s beloved late wife as a gift from the McKowns. This center is designed to provide a safe place for children of Norman’s working parents. Information about the center can be found near the end of the video in this article.

A mentor to many, Gene has always made it a priority to offer training and advice to others which is why the McKown Family Foundation provides funding for scholarships and why he continues to serve on its Board of Directors today.

He has always looked for and found creative and proactive ways to give: a prime example, his auctions for charity. While a college student 50 years ago, Gene attended auction school to learn how to raise money for charity. Averaging 25 to 30 charity auctions a year, he has been auctioneer for more than 1,500 community auctions to date, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. “Builder Magazine” detailed Gene’s charity auction work, which has included an annual fundraising auction for the Assistance League of Norman for over 40 years and for the United Way of Norman for more than 25 years, in this article.

A long-time supporter of the Salvation Army, Gene recently gave the organization a $1 million challenge grant, which they have successfully met. A $220,000 corporate office in Norman was included in the challenge. Gene purchased the office and gifted it to this deserving non-profit.

Although personal giving has always been extremely important to him, recruiting others to help causes close to his heart is also of vital importance to Gene. He has led Ideal Homes and Neighborhoods’ charitable giving programs throughout the company’s history. Ideal Homes and Neighborhoods has, to date, given millions of dollars to community projects.

We are thankful for leaders such as Gene McKown who are committed to making the world a kinder, more helpful and nurturing place for all.

Erin Yarbrough