Shortly after Nancy and Kevin Rhein first settled with their three children in Minnetonka in 1994, after five cross-country corporate moves, Nancy was looking for volunteer opportunities that could include their young children. She heard about an opportunity with JFCS’ Hag Sameach (Happy Holidays) program – which includes organizing and delivering holiday gift packages for people in need – and it ended up being the perfect fit for what she was looking for. It was serendipitous for JFCS as well – 25 years later we are still benefitting from Nancy and Kevin’s ongoing and dedicated support.
Following her initial exposure to JFCS and seeing all the programs and services it offers, Nancy ended up lending her support in other areas. After receiving a brochure in the mail for the Mental Health Education Conference that JFCS was co-sponsoring, she signed up to volunteer and joined the planning committee. Mental health is a subject Nancy feels passionate about, having worked as a therapist in an outpatient community mental health center. She has been involved in the planning and execution of this annual conference every year since.
Most of Kevin’s early involvement with JFCS coincided with programs where Nancy was involved, like the Mental Health Education Conference, the ParentChild+ program and the Annual Benefit. Once he retired and had more time, he joined the JFCS Board’s Business Advisory Council. He also helped JFCS determine its technology, telecommunication and security needs in its new building.
Besides JFCS, Kevin has served on the Board of the United Negro College Fund, Center For Financial Services Innovation, National Foundation for Credit Counseling and First Children’s Finance. He said the Twin Cities is fortunate to have many excellent non-profits that serve the community, and JFCS has several aspects that drive the Rheins’ desire to support it with their time, financial resources and ideas.
“First and foremost, we like that JFCS serves a diverse clientele and offers programs and services to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation or background,” the Rheins said. “It is a well-run organization with outstanding leadership and a cadre of volunteers who are passionate about the agency, its clients and mission.”
When Nancy served on the JFCS Board, she said she learned even more about the organization and how leadership adapted to meet funding challenges and evolving client needs. “We want to help make sure JFCS is here to serve the needs of our community long into the future,” she said.
Nancy and Kevin are regular volunteer fixtures at JFCS’ ParentChild+ program’s annual graduation ceremony, where 3- and 4-year-olds and their families celebrate their completion of the two-year school readiness program. Other JFCS service areas the Rheins are passionate about include food security, disability inclusion, and senior services.
As they personally experience the challenges of caring for an elderly parent with declining cognitive abilities, they said they are grateful for programs like JFCS’ Caregivers Conference. “It’s a day filled with inspiration, education, and resources around the issues of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia,” they said. “As our population ages, this critical need will continue to grow.”
For their many years of support and volunteerism, Nancy and Kevin will be presented with the Friends of the Family Award at JFCS’ 31st Annual Benefit on Saturday, Dec. 7. JFCS Chief Executive Officer Judy Halper said that even though the Rheins have lived several places, Minnesota has been their home for many years and our community is extremely fortunate to count them as residents.
“Together, they are a powerful team who simply identify a need, dedicate their time and resources to addressing the situation, and humbly look for additional problems they can help solve,” she said. “They are tireless in their compassion and willingness to help others who might be experiencing mental health or physical challenges, or any other barriers to happiness and purpose. They truly want to do their part to make life better for people they know, and those they might never meet. I have one word…mensches!”
Both Nancy and Kevin credit their respective parents for instilling in them a priority to volunteer and give back to the community. They said they are humbled to be selected to receive the Friends of the Family Award. “JFCS is an amazing organization and it is a privilege to participate in its programs and to help ensure its future,” they said. “We want to thank JFCS for this honor and to convey our deepest appreciation to our friends and family for their well-wishes and support.”
The 31st JFCS Annual Benefit will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center. Don’t miss your chance to see comedian Jon Fisch and support JFCS programs and services – get your tickets (or make a donation) here!