Through a grant to LSS of Minnesota, the Kallsen-Jirsa Family Fund helped youth like 18-year-old LaDawn transition from being homeless to attending college.
Gary and Joyce Kallsen live in Wisconsin and have been married for 49 years. They have two children and one grandchild


Why They Give

The local YMCA played an important role in Gary’s life while growing up in Worthington, Minnesota. When he decided to attend the University of Minnesota, the YMCA worked with its affiliates in Minneapolis to arrange free room and board for Gary in exchange for part-time labor. “That generosity got me a college education and access to better jobs,” Gary says. “It was a big boost in my life.”

How They Give

In 2004, Gary and Joyce established The Kallsen-Jirsa Family Fund with an outright gift. Through their donor advised fund, they’ve already granted more than $24,000 from their fund to causes serving disadvantaged youth, ranging from the YMCA to Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Minnesota.

How the LCF Helped

Beyond their support for programs serving disadvantaged youth, Gary and Joyce began thinking about ways that they could share their joy in giving with their children. “I called the LCF and asked, ‘Could we open up our donor advised fund to our kids so that they can use it to give to causes that they want to support?’” Gary recalls. “Staff was creative and careful in figuring out how to set it all up. They did an excellent job helping us include the whole family in our giving plan.”

Last Christmas, the Kallsens told their two children and their families that they could each grant up to $3,000 annually from the fund to the charity(ies) of their choice. The LCF provided the children with information on how they could make grants from the fund to change lives and spread joy. “Our kids were stunned,” Gary says.

What They Believe


“My wife and I are thankful that we’ve had the opportunities that life has presented to us. We want to support community programs that give others access to similar opportunities.”