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Donor Profiles

Donor Kathleen Kemple Adams: A Family Affair of Giving

Kathleen Kemples

Donor Kathleen Kemple Adams.

Kathleen Kemple Adams

From left: Grandmother Minnie Knake,
Kathleen Kemple Adams, and Twylla Knake
at Kathleen’s college graduation in 1969.

Some inherit dimples from their fathers or musical ability from their moms. Kathleen Kemple Adams inherited a spirit of altruism from her parents.

To honor her mother's legacy of service to her family and the community, Adams established the Twylla Mae Knake Nursing Refresher Scholarship Fund at St. Charles Foundation, an endowment to benefit RNs who have let their license lapse and wish to re-enter the profession.

"Our family was raised on philanthropy," said Adams. "It's in the Kemple-Knake genes."

Knake left nursing early in her career to raise her six children. In 1977, at age 55 and after 30 years at home with her family, she found herself single with an uncertain future. She decided to enroll in St. Charles' nursing refresher course to recertify her license.

"My impression, based on watching mom and hearing her talk about her renewed profession, was that she was re-energized, happy to be serving patients and so proud to be nursing again," said Adams. "I think her career was a lifeline for her for a number of years."

Knake achieved a fulfilling, second-act in her career working with Dr. Richard Robinson, an OB-GYN at Bend Memorial Clinic, who delivered her three youngest children.

"The refresher was a major stepping stone for her. It was really important in getting her back into the world of work," said Adams. "The value was enormous."

The interest from the scholarship fund will cover half the tuition for a refresher student each year. As the fund grows, so will the program. The scholarship committee at St. Charles will select the first recipient in 2014 with Adams' input.

"Many people are struggling financially and returning to nursing is usually a financial motivator for those wishing to re-enter the RN profession," said Amy Reed, RN, MSN, and Clinical Education Manager at St. Charles who oversees scholarship distribution. "The nursing profession offers tremendous job possibilities, and the additional RNs improve the health of our community."

Adams herself took a refresher course to re-enter nursing after raising her children. She currently lives in Durango, CO and is president and co-founder of a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting a rare syndrome that afflicted her daughter for many years. She feels fortunate to have the discretionary time to do this kind of work and considers it "giving back, paying it forward."

Adams' late father, Dr. Harold Kemple, also had a long history of philanthropic achievements in Central Oregon, among them founding the Kemple Memorial Children's Dental Clinic in 1998. The nonprofit relies on volunteer dentists and donations to provide critical dental care for children in Deschutes County from low-income families.

And this spirit hasn't escaped later generations. Adams' daughter, who has a cognitive disability, was so moved hearing about the scholarship and her grandmother's life and work that without hesitation she said, "I'm going to write a check for that, mom." And she did, for $10, and is ready to write another.

Philanthropy certainly does run in the family.