Kirkpatricks receive regional award for tireless commitment to valley nonprofits
Anna and Ken Kirkpatrick moved to Teton Valley in 2017, freshly retired from their careers in education. They hadn’t been involved with many charitable organizations in their community in Indiana; they had worked full time, Ken as a registrar at a university and Anna as a high school teacher. Also, their community didn’t seem to have as extensive a network of nonprofits as exists in Teton Valley and, as they said, they certainly weren’t interested in cold-calling donors or other fundraising.
But Anna started following the Facebook pages of many valley nonprofits and loved what she saw. When they arrived three years ago, they spent a few months exploring everything the area had to offer, then quickly became immersed in Teton Valley’s thriving nonprofit scene.
First it was food rescue for the Community Resource Center, a weekly task that Anna said is easy but feels good to do. They started attending Teton Regional Land Trust fields days to count cranes and trumpeter swans and take down fencing, helped at Friends of the Teton River events, and did trail work and clean-up with Teton Valley Trails and Pathways. With the Downtown Driggs Association they served breakfast to Snowscapes artists and helped hang up paintings for the Plein Air Fest. Anna translated every nonprofit mission statement into Spanish for the Community Foundation of Teton Valley and took photos for several organizations. Ken served on the Driggs comprehensive plan committee.
But they really found their nonprofit home at Seniors West of the Tetons, Anna said. “It already feels like family. I love getting to know all the seniors. We had such momentum before COVID, but we’re still trying to plan safe outings and provide meals without putting people at risk.”
Between Meals on Wheels, holiday lunches, website updates, tax filing, serving on the board, cooking 60 breakfast burritos each Friday to sell at the farmer’s market, helping to organize the SWOT golf tournament, and yes, even the occasional fundraising effort, the couple is deeply involved with the senior center.
Even with a full plate of volunteer duties, they’ve also been successful in their goal of doing an outdoor activity every single day, and reached day number 1,000 on Sept. 26.
SWOT executive director River Osborn said they’re known around the center as the Energizer Bunny volunteers.
“They just keep going and going,” Osborn explained. “Not only are they full of energy, but they are always the first to offer to help, they are always happy to share their vast skill sets, they bring thoughtful ideas of how our organization can both grow and improve, and they exhibit a deep commitment to serving their community.”
That’s why SWOT nominated the Kirkpatricks for the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year award through the Idaho Nonprofit Center. When Osborn and SWOT board chair Carol Lichti put the word out to the other nonprofits that benefit from the Kirkpatricks’ boundless energy, those organizations happily complied, submitting one glowing letter of support after another.
“Somewhere among all the time they give to their community, Anna and Ken find time to pursue their passions and are amazing outdoorsmen. I am honored to know them, work with them, and recommend them for recognition of their valuable and selfless role in our community,” wrote Betsy Hawkins of the CRC.
“Ken and Anna are likely as busy in ‘retirement’ as they were when working,” wrote TVTAP’s Dan Verbeten.
“Anna and Ken are ambassadors not just for FTR, but for the entire philanthropic community which makes Teton Valley the place where we all live and recreate,” reads Anna Lindstedt’s letter from FTR.
Anna remembers the first year she and Ken participated in the CFTV Tin Cup event day. They watched from the sidelines as people gathered and talked to each other at the valley’s quintessential nonprofit event. Now for the Kirkpatricks that close-knit world is full of familiar faces.
“It’s been a great way to meet people with similar interests, and there aren’t that many ways to do that this effectively,” Ken said.
As a member of the Driggs comprehensive plan committee, Ken was surprised to see how integrated local government is with nonprofits here. “Pathways, wildlife, the goals and action items almost all referred to a nonprofit.”
“There’s this collaboration between them, even with our nomination letters,” Anna said with a laugh. “It seems like everyone knows and respects each other’s mission and they try to avoid redundancies.”
Unsurprisingly, SWOT learned last week that the Kirkpatricks had won the award. The ceremony will happen online in November. The couple is a little embarrassed of the recognition.
“I feel humbled,” Anna said. “It’s not like any of this is a chore. We just got an email from the land trust about building bluebird houses at Rainey Bridge. It’s just fun activities, and we still have our days or afternoons set aside to get out for ourselves.”