Invest in Inclusion with KenCrest
How Jim and Mary Jane Brenneman give back to the community with intention.
It’s been said—those who are happiest are those who do for others; Jim and Mary Jane Brenneman know that to be undeniably true. “We believe it is a responsibility to help people who haven’t experienced the blessings we have, and KenCrest is a wonderful organization to do that,” shares the couple.
As long-time donors, the Brenneman’s have found true purpose in investing time and financial opportunities into organizations that support underserved populations. For over four decades, they have been committed donors to KenCrest after learning about its mission through their congregation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland, Pennsylvania.
“When we are deciding which organizations to donate to, we want to understand their mission and see examples of how they serve and improve their constituents’ lives. We also seek out any connections we might have with those whose family has personally benefitted from the organization of works there—that was our case with KenCrest.” Upon learning about KenCrest, Jim and Mary Jane were invited to meet with staff members who directly cared for people with disabilities. “We observed their strong level of commitment and passion for their jobs. We admired the complexity of what they were asked to do,” says Jim.
They personally desire to see diversity in their community that encompasses not only inclusion, but also productivity and fulfillment for people with diverse abilities. “More opportunities are so important,” Mary Jane says. “Everyone has something to contribute,” adds Jim. “It’s gratifying to observe that people with disabilities have skills we do not have.”
After meeting some of the people KenCrest supports, the Brennemans were ready to lend a hand financially. Moreover, Jim began volunteering his fundraising expertise to the Development team and several board members regarding KenCrest’s fundraising procedures and planning for a comprehensive capital campaign. Transparency into an organization is key before any donation is made, and Jim and Mary Jane believe that lines of communications should remain open following a gift or pledge.
“We always appreciate a ‘thank you,’” says Mary Jane. “I like to know where the gifts will be utilized; that adds to our gratification and makes it appear as an investment, not just dollars,” Jim adds. Devoted church goers from child to adulthood, the couple considers the church to have enriched their connection to giving. They believe their lives would feel unfulfilled if they were not service to others. “As we get older, we realize the skills we do not have,” says Jim. “Giving is a way to answer, ‘What can I do?’ and have a real impact. Being close to these organizations and serving them can help fit that need.” A family who attends their church has a daughter who attends their church has a daughter who was once cared for by KenCrest. “Whenever we were in her presence, she was joyous and recognized who we were. That always made our day. She loves her life and KenCrest was a major contributor in allowing that to happen,” shares Mary Jane.
Selfless acts and philanthropy have become a family affair in the Brenneman household; their son and daughter-in-law are KenCrest donors, and their granddaughter worked for KenCrest while pursuing a graduate degree in the human services field. For Jim, the act of giving traces back to his childhood.
“The one thing I heard and saw regularly was the importance my parents placed on giving back. This behavior was something I also learned in Sunday school and church. It is essential we care for those in need.”
The couple have found great satisfaction in seeing generations of their family involved in the passion of giving and community service; the hope is that their same happiness will continue for generations to come.