by Lisa Moody Breslin, photography by Walter P. Calahan
After being employed at Evapco’s headquarters in Taneytown for almost 30 years, Greg Kahlert shifted his energy from building worldwide sales to philanthropy.
The Kahlert Foundation was established in 1991 by Greg’s father, William “Bill” E. Kahlert, co-founder of Evapco, Inc., who passed away in 2011. Described by his son and many as a true gentleman, a great father, a family man, an entrepreneur and very generous, Bill’s legacy lives on through outreach that blooms from the 100 grants the foundation funds each year.
Greg and his wife, Roberta, live in Carroll County. Their daughter, Heather, is vice president of the foundation, and their son, Scott, is on the board of directors and an active member.
Three adjectives to describe how it feels when the foundation is able to help organizations reach out to more people because of Kahlert Foundation gifts? Blessed – to be in a position to give back and help others. Proud – of what we have been able to accomplish including construction of new facilities and supporting programs for people in need. And number three would be Rewarding. Philanthropy can be a very rewarding experience. I have one of the best jobs in the world!
Of the foundation’s five main areas of focus – health care, youth programs, education, veteran organizations, and human services – are there one or two that you feel a personal pull toward more than others? If so, why? We are very proud to support all five focus areas but if I had to pick one with a special emphasis it would have to be health care. About 50% of our grants are in the area of health care. Through foundation grants we are able to help children and adults with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, hospice, dental problems and more. We also support research in many of these areas to help find better treatments and cures. Every day I am thankful for the good health of our family and through the foundation we help as many people as possible to ensure their good health and well-being.
What are two of the biggest challenges of giving? How do you hurdle them? Although we are a rather sizable foundation we do have limited funds and unfortunately cannot support all requests. Determining who receives grants and how much is a huge challenge impacting a lot of people.
Along those lines another challenge is physically having to say no to grant requests. Personally I try to be positive and upbeat. While working at Evapco my philosophy was to always say yes to customer requests. No was not in the vocabulary. So, having to say no to a grant request is sometimes necessary but difficult for me.
Offer a shout out for three recipients of Kahlert Foundation funding for how they have invested the money? There are so, so many great organizations that I would like to recognize. However, here are three. The Carroll Hospital Center did an absolutely amazing job building the new William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center. The center has state of the art equipment, is a beautiful facility and has the staffing and programs to provide the best treatment and service in the region.
Number two is Mission of Mercy (MOM). Our grant helped enable MOM to purchase and outfit a new mobile van that provides free health care screenings and prescriptions to thousands of people in Frederick, Taneytown, Gettysburg, Harrisburg and Reisterstown who cannot afford health care. This project was so successful that MOM is now starting a capital campaign to purchase another mobile van to provide very much needed dental care.
Number three is the Fisher House Foundation. Fisher Houses provide a “Home Away From Home” offering free temporary lodging so military and veteran families can remain together while receiving specialized medical care at a military center. $.92 of every dollar donated to the Fisher House is for services provided, which is a very high percentage.
One of your favorite memories in your role as president of the foundation? The dedication of the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center. This was a wonderful tribute to Dad and the opening of an amazing new facility that is helping so many people with cancer.
How do you and your team make the tough choices linked to funding or not funding grant requests? Organizations applying must be in one of our five areas of focus, be in the mid-Atlantic area or Utah (my daughter Heather lives in Utah), have a 501(c)(3) and have a high rating with Charity Watch or Charity Navigator. After that they must show a need, it’s impact and effectiveness. Then I will meet with the Executive Director or other key individuals and do a site visit. Upon receipt of a written proposal it will be evaluated and presented to the board of directors for approval at one of our meetings. We have a terrific board of directors working together as a great team.
How do you ensure that your donations are well spent? Good question as this is a very important part of the job. After a grant is made we typically request a written update every six months. We look for measurable results and how many people were positively impacted by a grant. Where applicable I will make a follow up site visit for an inspection.
The Kahlert Foundation is a large private foundation. About how many charities or organizations do you support? Currently the foundation is making over 100 grants per year.
Briefly describe your professional life before leading the Kahlert Foundation? How did a typical day unfold? I was employed at Evapco in Taneytown, MD (worldwide headquarters) for almost 30 years. A majority of my day was spent building our worldwide after-market sales for equipment, parts and our Mr. Good Tower Service Centers. I loved the work and being part of a very successful company founded by my father and Mr. Bradley 40 years ago. In my spare time I played competitive USTA tennis and loved to travel.
How does a typical day unfold now? I spend much of my day heading up the family foundation. The foundation is a business which requires a significant amount of time and effort to be successful and make a positive impact in the community. Days could include meetings, site visits, emails, phone calls and writing grant letters and checks to deserving organizations.
I also try to attend as many fund raisers, such as gala’s and golf outings, as possible. I like to provide support for the organization, network with participants and enjoy the event. Fortunately, I now have more time for golf which I always looked forward to. I also am able to visit our daughter Heather and the three grandkids in Utah more often.
What inspires you to live in Carroll County? My wife Roberta and I moved to Carroll County about 10 years ago when our son graduated from high school and went onto college. The move reduced my commute time to Evapco in Taneytown. We have come to love the community and the people.
As a side note, one of the most impressive things I see in Carroll County is the willingness of the charitable organizations to work together to help those in need. They are not in competition with each other, as found in some areas, but always finding a way to help those needing medical attention, a place to stay, food, counseling, etc.
Who are your heroes in real life? My biggest hero is by far my father. He was a great father, family man, entrepreneur and a very generous man. Many people have described dad as a true gentleman. You would love him. I owe dad so much and will always look up to him. I also am very patriotic and supportive of our military and veterans that sacrifice so much for our freedom and way of life. They are also heroes.
Where and when are you happiest? Spending good time with family and friends. Traveling anywhere around the world. Also, the foundation work can be very rewarding. There is a great sense of pleasure when helping others less fortunate and I would encourage others to join in. Even a small contribution or act of kindness goes a long way. Per Ben Carson “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give”.
Was there a pivotal moment in your life that inspired you to get into this line of work? If yes, briefly discuss. The family foundation was started in 1991, and I had been involved in a smaller role for a number of years. When dad passed away in 2011, I had to make a choice to continue working at Evapco or run the family foundation. Both were full time jobs.
I chose the latter as I did not want to turn the foundation over to somebody else. As a side note, I am quite pleased that my daughter, Heather, and son, Scott, are on the board of directors and active members of the foundation.
In 20 years, what do you hope will be The Foundation’s greatest achievement? I do not believe there will be one single great achievement but hopefully a history of grants that have made a positive difference in the lives of many men, women and children in the communities we support.