Lake Minnetonka Magazine
Ron Kamps of Minnetonka is no stranger to a full workweek. The former director of worldwide sales and marketing at Control Data Corp. (now Seagate) spent a large part of his life serving in high-profile leadership positions at a number of worldwide companies for more than four decades. Now Kamps fills his days with a different kind of work: volunteering for nonprofit organizations around the Minnetonka area for more than 40 hours per week.
Kamps’ passion for volunteerism started in Arlington, Minn., where he grew up in a community that was a proponent of hard work and giving back. After working his way through high school and college, Kamps entered the business world at 20 years old. His career took off and took him around the world to experience diverse cultures. Eight years ago, after more than 40 years working for worldwide organizations, he decided he had flown enough miles and was ready begin his next chapter: retirement.
Retirement has given Kamps an opportunity to dedicate his time to serving others by following a model he believes to be the key to a successful community. “First you learn, then you earn, then you serve,” Kamps says. “This is how a community survives.”
Faith has also played a large role in how Kamps provides service to others. A discussion with his pastor helped him determine what his talents were and where to invest them, which is how Kamps landed at the Intercongregational Communities Association Food Shelf in Minnetonka a few months after he retired. “The ICA is where it all began,” Kamps says. “God has given me the gifts… I am humbled, honored and blessed to help.”
Kamps began his volunteer legacy with the food shelf by picking up and delivering food, and his business background helped him feel at ease building relationships with the people he encountered as his involvement grew within the organization. “I learned who people were and what their needs were,” Kamps says. He now serves on the executive board of directors and is vice president for the ICA.
Peg Keenan, executive director of the ICA Food Shelf, recognizes that Kamps has a special touch when it comes to making connections inside and outside the organization. “He seems to know everyone,” Keenan says, “and those he doesn’t know seem to know him and will come up to ask him what ICA needs or how they can help.”
Including his work with the ICA Food Shelf, Kamps dedicates 40 to 60 hours a week to the community. He has served as a board member on 14 organizations and helps write grants for the Minnetonka School District. Organizing special events, and coordinating speakers and mentors for students are but a few of his contributions as a member of the district. “He is very humble about all the help he gives ICA Food Shelf and many other organizations in the community,” Keenan says.
Brian Tichy, president of the Minnetonka Diamond Club where Kamps serves on the board, refers to Kamps as a “multi-faceted individual” who coordinates and executes special events to help the club reach their fundraising goals. “We had a car wash in the fall,” Tichy says. “The business [we worked with] volunteered to donate their entire revenue—not just profit, their whole revenue—that day to the organization. Ron coordinated it.”
“He has this connection with businesses,” Tichy says. “He’s out in front, a leader, a front man. He will bring people in.”
Kamps also enjoys making community involvement a family affair. He’s been married to his wife, Elaine, for more than 50 years, has four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandson, who attend fundraising events and contribute to their community. Even his grandchildren have taken after their grandfather’s dedication to serving others. “My granddaughter volunteered for a six-month internship with ICA,” Kamps says, “and all five of my grandchildren in Minnesota volunteer for the food shelf as well.”
Kamps attributes his success to the people he works with who make it all come together. “I am part of a team on all these organizations, and they aren’t successful without everyone working together,” Kamps says. “I’m just a member of the teams and humbled to be part of them to help our community.”