April 26, 2017
When dreaming of retirement, many people look forward to relaxing and retreating to a warmer climate during cold Minnesota winters. However, Minnetonka resident Ron Kamps had a different dream when he retired 12 years ago: he wanted to give back to the community he has called home for 44 years.
“My philosophy is first you learn, then you earn, then you serve,” said Kamps. “If you don’t give back to the community, it will die.”
What started as volunteering a couple of days at a local food shelf has evolved into a 12-year legacy of giving back tirelessly to the community. Today, Kamps serves on the boards of several organizations and dedicates 40-60 hours a week to public service. That’s why he’s being honored with the City of Minnetonka Reflections Award, which is designed to recognize individuals, businesses and programs whose outstanding contributions reflect positively on Minnetonka.
“Our community is blessed in so many ways by having Ron among us and volunteering for so many things to benefit others,” said Dennis L. Peterson, Ph.D., Minnetonka Public Schools superintendent.
“I cannot imagine anyone being more deserving of this recognition than Ron.”
Kamps grew up in a small town in Minnesota, where he learned the values of hard work and giving back. He married his wife and moved to Minnetonka in 1973, where they raised four children. Kamps
enjoyed a successful career in the computer industry, which took him to exotic locations all over the world, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles a year. As he neared retirement, Kamps was ready to be home, but he didn’t want to stop using his business skills and talents. After a discussion with his pastor about how he could best serve the community, Kamps found himself at the Intercongregational Communities Association (ICA) Food Shelf in Minnetonka.
His first role at ICA was to pick up and deliver food in his SUV. It became immediately clear to ICA Executive Director Peg Keenan that Kamps has a rare gift of connecting ICA with people and companies that could help move the organization forward. Today, Kamps serves as ICA board vice president and helps organize special events to raise money for the food shelf. “Volunteers like Ron are essential to our being able to serve everyone in need,” said Keenan.
Through his work with ICA, Kamps connected with other organizations that could benefit from his business know-how and ability to foster relationships. Throughout the years, he has served on the boards of 14 organizations and is heavily involved in his congregation. He supports Minnetonka Public schools through grant writing and assistance with technology and science programs, helps coordinate the Minnetonka Community Education Tour de Tonka annual event (which supports ICA), chairs the Hopkins Public Schools Empty Bowls fundraiser, coordinates special events for the Diamond Club, and so much more. “To know Ron Kamps is to know the true meaning of the words ‘service, humility, passion, integrity and character,’” said Tim Litfin, executive director of Community Education for Minnetonka Public Schools. “Ron is tireless.”
Though Kamps goes above and beyond daily to help others, he is extremely humble. “I’m honored to receive this award, but I didn’t do any of this for the recognition,” said Kamps. “I’m just one person in a team of people doing whatever they can to help our community.”
Kamps was nominated by Peg Keenan, ICA executive director. He was chosen for the award by a committee consisting of Minnetonka Mayor Terry Schneider and former mayors Karen Anderson, Jan Callison and Tim Bergstedt.