All about the kids

Musician Kendall Docherty finds great harmony in hectic family life

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 16, 2013

Chaos is a conscious lifestyle choice for popular P.E.I. singer Kendall Docherty.

Well-managed mayhem is the order of the day — every day — in this Hazelbrook household that is currently home to four hockey-playing boys, two foster babies, a couple of children being babysat five days a week, three large dogs, four cats, Kendall and his wife Denise.

The boys alone require constant time management and schedule juggling to get them on the ice. Almost all of the large daily squares during hockey months on a key planning calendar are filled with times for practices and games.

Six nights a week, the Dochertys are in one rink or another. Already this season, the family has driven off the Island for half a dozen hockey tournaments.

Kendall, 35, also manages one of his boy’s teams — what with all his free time after taking care of business in his full-time job as an insurance agent with the P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company, pursuing his passion as a musician with a host of gigs, and taking care of a full household that requires high-energy parenting.

“So when people ask me now why I sing, I sing to subsidize minor hockey,’’ he quipped.

A busy, busy life, notes Kendall, is simply what he and his wife signed up for. The pair thrives in controlled chaos. Their focus is on raising their boys while also providing foster care.

“We don’t need to go to the movies,’’ said Denise in a sentiment that well conveys the couple’s selfless approach to life.

Kendall and Denise talked for years about opening their hearts and their home to children in need of foster care. An embroidered sign hanging on a stairway wall seems to capture the couple’s caring mindset. It reads: “When there is room in the heart, there is room in the house.’’

The pair began their demanding, yet absolutely rewarding, role as foster parents three years ago. Over that period, the Dochertys have had four babies under the age of one placed with them, as well as four others in the one-year to four-year-old range stay to provide respite.

Neither Kendall nor Denise see as a chore the considerable added time and energy required to properly and lovingly be foster parents to babies while raising sons Sumner, 14, Sammy, 12, Thomas, 10, Lawson, 9, as well as caring for seven four-legged occupants of the house.

Denise, who is a teacher by trade, sees being a stay-at-home mom and a stay-at-home foster mom as not only something she wants to do, but something she was meant to do.

“This is a calling,’’ she said. “This is what I’m meant to do...it’s no burden. That’s OK that I’m tired.’’

Kendall, who notes he always wanted a big family, welcomes the challenges of managing one hectic day after another in order to not only be a caring father to four sons, but also a loving foster parent to babies in need as well.

“They deserve a chance,’’ he said. “You’re giving a big part of your heart to these little people...it’s a never-ending need.’’

Denise credits the pair’s altruistic outlook on life to the fact that both she and Kendall come from “solid families.”

Kendall came from a musical environment that he converted into a passionate sideline but also a charitable talent.

His father played in bands while Kendall and his brothers Jason and Timothy grew up in Pinette. His parents, Helen and George, held many parties at home with musicians strumming their guitars, singing songs and kicking up their heels.

“Music was always there,’’ said Kendall.

He was “backward and shy’’ as a young boy, but music helped bring him out of his shell. He entered his first singing contest at 14, recorded his first CD the year he graduated from high school, and fell short in a bid to become a Canadian Idol in 2004.

In early years, Kendall was known for gospel, country, and old rock ‘n’ roll with a well-honed cache of Elvis Presley tunes. Later, he broadened his repertoire with more Celtic, traditional and contemporary and folk songs.

His dream to make a living solely as a musician never panned out.

He has, though, had an interesting career path outside of music. He graduated from a tourism/hospitality management program at Holland College with the hope of one day running a resort.

Instead, needing money, he took a job for three years doing sales and installations for Video Pros. This relatively short work period would, however, shape the rest of his life.

Denise came in as a customer. They would eventually marry and have four children. Kendall also met the owner of Royalty Hardwoods through his work at Video Pros. He would go on to work for Royalty Hardwoods in sales and marketing for 10 years.

“It was a great job and I really enjoyed it,’’ he said.

From there, he had a short stint as sales and marketing manager with Murphy’s Pharmacies that included him hosting a TV show on EastLink called East Island Health.

For the past three years, he has been an insurance agent, a position that gives him more flexibility to attend to a busy home-life while also catering to his desire to help protect people from misfortune.

And his love of performing keeps him on stage in front of a faithful following.

Like his father George, Kendall has always played many concerts for free to help raise money for a good cause. His very first concert, in fact, was a fundraiser.

Over the years, at least three out of every 10 shows would be a benefit of some sort, perhaps for a sick child or simply for a person down on his luck.

Kendall describes as “a pretty good feeling’’ all the people he has been able to help through charitable concerts.

It’s not such a bad feeling either to be a top-notch family man.

“We just want to do our part,’’ he said.

Kendall and Denise Docherty of Hazelbrook welcome having their hands full with hockey-playing sons Sumner, Sammy, Thomas and Lawson, not to mention providing foster care to babies.

©Guardian photo by Jim Day