For Kent, it’s always been about giving back—whether it’s through time, talent or money. It all began in Windom, where he was born and raised. The youngest of six, Kent was taught from an early age that giving was simply part of who you are. It was a message that resonated with him, and he carries it with him today. Loyal to his Minnesota roots, Kent obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Minnesota. After jobs in both the public and private sectors, he accepted a Community Development Educator position in Willmar with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
The job provided Kent ample opportunities to work with community organizations throughout West Central and Southwest Minnesota. Kent’s work had a focus on community and organizational development, which naturally led him to working with SWIF. Kent was a part of SWIF’s integral original taskforce, and was even a member of the 1989 founding board. Since then, he’s been a member of the Growing Home Circle.
For Kent, the philanthropy doesn’t end there. Throughout his life, Kent recognizes that he’s been helped a lot, and as a result, he wants to do his part. Today, Kent and his wife, Viki, are determined to pay it forward. His advice for others wanting to give back is simple: “When you’re inspired to give, look at the values of the organization asking you to give—SWIF matches mine. Viki and I were both raised to give back, and SWIF has been great at building a regional sense of community.”
It’s this same sense of regional responsibility that led Kent to write a simple bequest into his will to benefit of fund of SWIF. In the past, Kent had always thought about including SWIF, he just wasn’t sure how. When he and his Windom high school classmates were celebrating their 50th Class Reunion, Kent realized just how much Windom meant to him. The former high school has been transformed into the Business Arts and Recreation Center (BARC). He was inspired to include BARC and SWIF in his estate.
When asked what Kent hopes Windom remembers him for, his answer is simple. “The reality is that no one will remember me, but I would turn the question around. Like many of my high school classmates, I left Windom after graduation. So I ask myself not what Windom will remember me for, but what I remember Windom for. It’s a great place to grow up and live.”
Kent has three rules about charitable giving, and with it comes his advice for those considering donating themselves. The first is it helps to have a personal connection with the organization. The second, the organization’s values should match with your own. Thirdly, the organization should be able to demonstrate results. “For me, SWIF hits all three,” says Kent. At the end of the day, Kent and Viki say giving is simply part of who they are.