The Full Circle of Giving

The Kallsen family donor-advised fund is rooted in gratitude

Grandparents playing with grandchild

When Gary Kallsen was accepted as a new student at the University of Minnesota, he didn’t have a place to live. Thanks to Gary’s connection with the Worthington, Minnesota YMCA, the Y of the Greater Twin Cities took him under its wing and found a place where Gary could receive lodging in exchange for part-time labor.

The generosity of the Y changed Gary’s life. Having room and board enabled Gary to get a college education, which led to opportunities for better jobs.

Fast forward years later and he and his wife, Joyce, are paying forward the blessings they’ve received through The Kallsen-Jirsa Family Fund at InFaith Community Foundation, with an emphasis on helping disadvantaged youth.

Giving back with purpose

The YMCA has been a natural part of the Kallsens’ desire to give back. “The YMCA welcomes everyone. You don’t have to be a member to walk in and find community. We like that they don’t turn anybody away,” Gary says.

Inspired by Gary’s experience as a young college student, the Kallsen family supports Kinship of Cumberland and Turtle Lake, where they now live in Wisconsin, which helps match children with community mentors. They recently used their fund to contribute to a building expansion project at their church. 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.

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

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 Kallsens gave as they could then and to this day continue to add to their donor-advised fund. Their fund has made it easy for them to share their blessings with the community and across future generations. “We want our children and grandchildren to experience how good 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 children and grandchildren also help choose which charities to support. Their granddaughter, who loves animals, selected the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to be a fund recipient.

A tradition with a ripple effect

The holidays are a poignant time to talk about blessings. Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings also provide opportunities for family members to get to know each other’s passions and share giving ideas. “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.

Donor-advised funds

As the Christmas holiday approaches and we turn to the new year, consider acting on your family’s faith and values through a donor-advised fund at InFaith. Learn more about InFaith donor-advised funds or call 800-365-4172.

About InFaith Community Foundation

InFaith Community Foundation is a national charity with a mission to serve donors, spread joy and change lives. Through InFaith, giving is customized to each donor’s charitable interests and financial circumstances. InFaith is a proven steward of these gifts, earning consistently high ratings from Charity Navigator and GuideStar for sound fiscal management, transparency and commitment to excellence. Together with donors, InFaith grants millions of dollars annually to charities serving local, national and global communities. To learn more, visit inFaithFound.org.


InFaith Community Foundation is a public charity that serves individuals, organizations and the community through charitable planning, donor-advised funds and endowments. InFaith works collaboratively with Thrivent and its financial professionals.