Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Generations of Giving

Introduction note from Steve Schmidt, Development Manager, Upper Midwest Office:

The following benefactor story comes to us from a sibling of the Konz Family, Ms. Judith Koeppler.  When I first reached out to Ms. Koeppler I asked how she first became involved with NPH and she shared one of the most beautiful stories of family-philanthropy I have heard to date.  To honor her parents and her family I said I would follow-up with a few photos from NPH.  In the picture, I had the honor of presenting Ms. Koeppler and the Konz Family with this photo book.  In this article Ms. Koeppler tells that story of their family-philanthropy and how the joy of philanthropy continues to be passed down in her family, generation to generation, benefitting organizations like NPH.  Please enjoy this wonderful story! 

Written by Judith Koeppler on behalf of the Konz Family:

When you think of a family tradition, especially during the Christmas holidays, you think of eating, celebrating, trees, lights and togetherness. Our family has added a new tradition and that is philanthropy.

It all started with Anne and Larry Konz and their strong commitment to their Catholic faith, Catholic education and their love of travel. They traveled all over the world, but their favorite country was Mexico. They loved the countryside, the people and the culture. Prior to one of their trips in the late 1950’s, Father Ray Zagorski, a priest at their church in Appleton, WI, told them about Father Wasson and the orphanage that he established. They made plans to meet him and see the orphanage. As always, they brought a couple of duffel bags full of clothes to give to the children. They were impressed and stayed in the local village to learn more about Father Wasson’s vision and decided that they like the philosophy he embodied for the families of the children. All children from one family would never be separated. All of the children were educated and worked on the farmland to help produce food and embrace communal living.

The Konz family quickly grew to a family with nine children. The entire family learned from early on that you cherish your family and bring sunshine to those less fortunate. It can be a smile, a bouquet of flowers or a home cooked meal.

The meeting of Father Wasson and the children started a friendship that lasted for years. Anne and Larry sponsored one little boy for years who finally graduated from College. Judie and Maribeth, two of their kids, were fortunate to meet this young man in Mexico City in 1980. He was all smiles and so very grateful for the opportunities the Konz’s made possible for him. How proud they were to meet him.

Anne Konz passed away in 2001 and in memory of her giving spirit, the family established the Granny Annie Fund through the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Anne embraced philanthropy in a simple way – with “heart”. A women of profound faith, she always considered others before herself. Her authentic concern for humanity continues to thrive in the extended Konz families. Donations are made throughout the year by family and friends. Every Christmas Eve they gather together and collectively discuss charitable opportunities and decide worthy programs to fund. Anne’s giving spirit was quietly contagious and is now embodied in the hearts of three generations that follow in her legacy. Her favorite NPH, quickly has become everyone’s favorite because of what it meant to her and Larry. Their philanthropic spirit has spread through the generations.

As the families gather together this Christmas Eve they will decide on her behalf where the dollars generated from her fund will benefit. They will capture the true meaning of what it feels like to give.