Good Energy: Len Kannapell, volunteer in motion

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For energy management analyst Len Kannapell, giving back isn’t the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. From organizing neighborhood food drives to mountaineering fundraisers, Len has donated his time and energy to various causes for over 20 years. And nothing stops him.

“A month-long climbing trip to Nepal in 1998 opened my eyes to the challenges and joys of living in a developing country,” Len explained. “I wanted to do more than just visit; I wanted to have an impact.

This trip inspired her work with the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Nepalese children. For the past 14 years, Len has led the July climbs of Mount Rainier and Mount Baker, raising $30,000 a year from participants.

Len (center, red jacket) celebrates with his team atop Mount Rainier.

He is also part of Mitrata’s fundraising committee and has been a board member for eight years. For the past three years, he has participated in the Miles for Mitrata Kids fundraiser, challenging himself to achieve a different physical goal each year. Past feats included 1,000 flips of a large truck tire and 1,000 continuous ropes. This year, he was aiming for 1,000 pull-ups. “I perished,” Len noted wryly, “but I survived. We’re still collecting donations through July – almost up to my goal of $3,000!” As if that didn’t tire him out, he coordinates various actions for local people in need.

“For four years, I led a group of volunteers to sort and package food at the Food Lifeline warehouse. And let’s be clear: the best hits of the 70s and 80s are at the top of their lungs. Pretty hip!” Len expressed. “I also host an annual brunch for the Jubilee Women’s Center, deliver Thanksgiving meals at Patrick Place, collect gifts for an annual Christmas tree, bake sandwiches at St. Benoît for the Martin de Porres shelter and collects/delivers non-perishable food for my neighborhood Food Lifeline food drive, which I started when COVID hit.

Every April, Len is on a different assignment: he and fellow actor Mark Adolph perform a 45-minute theatrical drama called “Two Faces in the Shadows” at correctional centers. This is a long-term program (over 20 years), spanning Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, Kentucky, and British Columbia.

Len (bottom right) with the food packaging team

“The Ministry of Prisons makes me very proud,” Len said. “There is always a feeling of apprehension when we arrive and of strangers during the question and answer part. But we learn so much from inmates. We want to bring a message of hope to prisoners and leave them with a fundamental: you are not forgotten.

His advice to those looking to give back is simple: “Go ahead – go ahead, be bold. Hesitation is an obstacle we all face. When you get involved, you change your perception of your life and your community.

Read below to find out how to get involved in one of Len’s causes:

  • Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children: Become a sponsor of a child. Write letters to your sponsored child, build a relationship and watch them grow. There are also fundraisers to support a contact center in Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Food Lifeline: Help feed the hungry. Donate non-perishable food items, participate in a food sorting and packaging event, or start a food drive in your neighborhood. Len says, “You meet like-minded people who want to make a difference – and nobody hates old disco. I’m just saying.
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