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The full circle of giving

Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 11:11
Molly Olson

The full circle of giving
As a new college student, Gary Kallsen came to Minneapolis without a place to live. The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities took him under its wing and found a place where Gary could get lodging in exchange for part-time labor. This generosity changed his life. “It got me a college education,” says Gary, “and access to better jobs.”

He and his wife, Joyce, are passing forward the blessings they’ve received through The Kallsen-Jirsa Family Fund with an emphasis on helping others, especially young people.

Giving back with purpose 
The thread that runs throughout the Kallsen’s giving is making sure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Their ongoing support to the YMCA and Kinship of Cumberland and Turtle Lake, where they now live in Wisconsin, provides children with pathways to success. They also support the Cumberland homeless shelter, the local animal humane society, their church and Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Minnesota through their donor-advised fund.

Igniting the family passion for giving 
“There was a time in our early life as a young family when we didn’t have much,” Joyce says, “but Gary and I still made charitable giving a priority.”

The Kallsen’s gave as they could and now continue to add to their donor-advised fund. Their fund has made it easy for them to share their blessings, not only with the community but across future generations as well.

“We want our children and grandchildren to experience how it feels to give back,” says Gary. “Now the entire family is involved in thinking about how to make the world a better place.”

The Kallsen’s recently used their fund to support an upcoming building expansion project at their church. It’s a growing church, thanks to their young pastor’s vision to welcome the whole community. Their children and grandchildren also participate in choosing charities to support. Gary and Joyce’s granddaughter, who loves animals, selected The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (ASPCA).

A tradition that ripples outwards 
Having a place to lay one’s head, as Gary did as a college student decades ago, makes Thanksgiving and Christmas a poignant time to share giving values and ideas with family. “We are thankful for the opportunities that life has presented to us,” says Gary. “We want to support our community so that others have similar opportunities.”

Giving is deeply rooted in gratitude for Gary and Joyce–to bless others from a place of being blessed.

Photos courtesy of Kinship of Cumberland & Turtle Lake and First Lutheran Church, Cumberland, Wisc.