Philanthropy runs deeply in the Nelson Family. A sense of “giving back” has always been a part of who they are. YMCA members, John and Barbara Nelson, continue their family tradition of philanthropy though volunteering and giving to the YMCA Strong Kids fund. Strong Kids provides disadvantaged youth access to the great facilities and programs the YMCA offers. Barbara Nelson has been a volunteer campaigner for Strong Kids. Her son, John is a spin instructor at the YMCA. He donates his entire paycheck to Strong Kids. Both see Strong Kids as a great way to continue their widespread and lifelong commitment to philanthropy. Barbara’s whole life has been dedicated to helping others.

Barbara worked as Methodist Missionary in the Philippines for many years. She is involved with Laurel United Methodist Church as a volunteer, is a member of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good, and volunteers at the Midwest Mission Distribution Center helping distribute disaster relief, education, and medical supplies to those in need both nationally and internationally. She loves all her volunteer duties, but being a campaigner for Strong Kids is something she really enjoys. She says she didn’t know much about the Strong Kids fund until a YMCA staff member mentioned the program to her. She says, “I love the mission and what the fund does to help others. I believe in it.”

John also has a long history of philanthropy. In college, John was an after-school director for an inner-city youth program and spent his summers working as a counselor at a Methodist youth camp. He is a member of the fraternity Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity, is a Past-Master Mason, and is part of the Springfield chapter of Frontiers International, a program focused on helping disadvantaged youth graduate from high school. He is currently the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action officer at the Illinois Department of Revenue. As a 4th degree black belt recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, he has spent decades teaching youth and adults traditional karate-do. He has competed in three Ironman triathlons and countless marathons and triathlons. John said one of his most enjoyable moments is when he served as the “engine” for a disabled athlete in a few local triathlons. John would like to remind all that, “We often forget about the value of our luxuries and what is truly valuable.”

The Nelson family are remarkable philanthropists. They care deeply about the causes they invest in. They provide not just financial support, but are generous with their time and in acting as ambassadors for their chosen nonprofit organizations. Through YMCA Strong Kids, both have found another amazing way to continue their philanthropy. Barbara and John are remarkable examples of what “giving back” is all about