An everyday hero is someone who answers the call to help another.
When we received Linda Van Kessler’s email about her husband Charles’ childhood, we were awestruck at his strength and courage. We were so moved that Charles’ past inspired him and Linda to create a charitable organization that serves children we immediately knew we wanted to highlight this cause.
Passion 4 K.I.D.S. helps kids and families that are going through challenging times. Their story is especially moving since this charity is completely “home-grown” and truly from the heart.
Here’s Linda and Charles:
“We try never to turn a child away if their need is legitimate. We try to move heaven and earth to put a smile on their face and make life a little brighter for them and let them know someone cares about them.”
– Linda and Charles Van Kessler
Please tell us about the Passion 4 K.I.D.S. (kids in desperate situations) Organization?
Passion 4 K.I.D.S. (Kids In Desperate Situations) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charity dealing with handicapped, neglected, abandoned, abused and underprivileged children of any race, color and creed as well as children in acute, life-threatening, emergency situations in the United States.
These are children whose young lives have been turned upside down that fall through the cracks with little or no insurance or government programs available to help them. Truly nothing brings us greater joy than to put a smile on their faces and try to lighten their load. Our help wears many faces, depending on each child’s individual circumstances.
Who are the founders?
Myself, Linda, and my husband Charles Van Kessler, have a passion for kids – our kids, other people’s kids, kids that are hurting, kids that are “special” – any kid! That’s why we created Passion 4 K.I.D.S.
It didn’t take long for us to see just how great this need really is, particularly in our own “backyard” of San Diego – we had no idea!
With economic hardship, families unraveling, serious childhood illnesses in epidemic proportions, etc., Passion 4 K.I.D.S.’ mission is to focus on children in the United States that need help.
Could you share a little bit about your and Charles’ backrounds?
Charles’ passion came from personal experience enduring an “upbringing” rivaling a movie script. Born in Amsterdam, Holland during World War II, he watched his Jewish father and grandparents be snatched away by the Nazis in front of him at age 2.
His Catholic mom couldn’t take care of him so he was placed in a state-run orphanage where he suffered abuse of every kind for 8 years and survived on eating flower bulbs until he could no longer take it and ran away at age 10 drifting all over Holland. He vowed one day to help children, like himself, who needed stability, love and someone to care.
I was an empty nester mom who at the time didn’t have any grandchildren to hug! I longed to bring love and happiness to suffering children who needed someone to care enough to help them.
Can you tell us a little bit about what Passion 4 K.I.D.S does?
Passion 4 K.I.D.S. brings joy, love, stability and practical help to turbulent young lives. Charles and I believe in having a very hands-on approach both in the day to day operations of the charity as well as the lives of the children we work with.
Passion 4 K.I.D.S. donates Passion 4 Life liquid vitamins to quadriplegic, autistic and ADD/ADHD children who can’t afford it.
I also mentor foster youth for the County of San Diego and, together with Charles, spend many weekends taking these children on fun and educational one-on-one outings. We build lasting relationships with the children which continue long after the children leave the Foster Youth Program.
In addition, Passion 4 K.I.D.S. raises funds for children in acute, life-threatening situations. Charles and I spend many hours weekly visiting kids in the hospital or at home, purchasing and delivering basic necessities of food, clothing and water to the children and serve as a resource of love, compassion and assistance in any way possible to the children and their families we are honored to serve.
What is the mission for Passion 4 K.I.D.S.?
“To dedicate ourselves to glorify and honor God for His many blessings to us by making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable and precious of His creation – children”
We hope you will be inspired to ask yourself, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Find your passion, step out in faith and start! We’re sure you’ll find, like us, that the blessing you receive is far greater than the blessing you can be.
We invite you to join us on our God-given journey of trying to make a difference – one child at a time!
Please tell us about the current programs going on at this organization.
*Providing food, clothes, school supplies and medication for children whose families are hit hardest by Covid-19
*Purchasing a new heating system for a family with 18 adopted special needs children
*Purchasing a handicapped accessible van for a child paralyzed by a teen drunk driver
What are the future goals of Passion 4 K.I.D.S.?
We hope to increase awareness and financial support for our charity so that we can help as many children as possible. We are a small family run charity that depends solely on the gifts and donations of our supporters.
If possible, we try never to turn a child away if their need is legitimate. We try to move heaven and earth to put a smile on their face and make life a little brighter for them and let them know someone cares about them. We also build long-term relationships with each child and their family so they know they can count on us.
Can you give an example of how Passion 4 K.I.D.S. makes a difference?
We find the specific need that will actually make a significant difference for the children we are honored to serve.
An example of some of the ways Passion 4 K.I.D.S. helps children include renovating homes to make them handicapped accessible, spending hours at the hospital with the children and their families, delivering food, clothes, medication, Christmas gifts, etc., paying for utility bills to keep life-saving medical equipment running, purchasing handicapped accessible vans for children who suddenly become handicapped in some form, putting a down payment on a small home for a young family whose child was paralyzed by a teen drunk driver and having 64 San Diego-based businesses donate a complete home makeover for the house.
“These precious little ones have been given very heavy burdens to bear, through no fault of their own. Each one deserves our best efforts because each one counts.”
Linda, what do you personally spend most of your time doing for this organization?
Even though there are NO salaries taken out of any of your donations, I personally run the entire charity, deal hands on with the families and together with my husband, Charles, work on the logistics to take care of each child’s individual needs. We never provide funds to the family. We are an advocate for the child and pay for the exact need that child has to improve their quality of life.
We hope we can be an example of two very ordinary people – no prior experience in setting up a non-profit, middle class with few resources, helping with situations we previously knew nothing about – who stepped out of our comfort zone to let God interrupt our life with a purpose and mission we are passionate about, yet totally inadequate in our own strength to accomplish. We have learned over and over when God gives the vision, He gives the provision.
What inspires you about Passion 4 K.I.D.S… can you share a specific story that has touched your heart?
One little boy was put in foster care because his father was in jail and his mother had drug abuse and anger issues. We met him when he was just 6 and spent every Saturday with him for several years, teaching him things, taking him places, kicking a ball with him in the park, teaching him values and morals and showing him that he could depend on us.
When he had his first child, a boy, he called to tell us he named him ”Charles” after my husband because he meant so much to him. That truly brought tears to our eyes.
Is there anything that you wish more people knew about this organization?
We are just two ordinary people who want to give back. Charles knows first-hand because of his “upbringing” what these children are going through.
We are small but with God’s help, and our wonderful supporters, we can accomplish big things that truly make a difference for these suffering children. That is our greatest joy.
How can people get involved?
Our biggest need right now is financial as with the pandemic there are very basic needs that we must meet for these children. We take no salaries out of any donations so you can be sure your gift is going directly to help children in need. Tax deductible donations can be made at www.passion4kids.org.
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