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For noted philanthropists, supporting WesleyLife is about meaningful connection accent

June 13, 2024 | By

For Rich Willis, philanthropist and principal dealer for Willis Automotive in Clive, Iowa, and his wife, fellow philanthropist and community supporter Kim Willis, championing WesleyLife simply makes good sense — primarily because the organization’s services touch virtually every step in the process of aging.

“Quite simply, WesleyLife’s broad band of assistance can impact so many people in so many situations that it was a very easy call to say we want to support so many people in our community and beyond,” Rich says. “You see the need for the services and the wisdom of them, and you also look around and you see that the need for these services will only increase.”

Rich, a member of WesleyLife’s board of directors, had long been familiar with WesleyLife’s flagship community, Wesley on Grand (formerly Wesley Acres) in Des Moines; it was only when he was introduced to WesleyLife President and CEO Rob Kretzinger several years ago that he became aware of the organization’s breadth and reach.

And as members of his family grew older, Rich developed a personal understanding of the need for the levels of living and home services WesleyLife offers.

Personal experience and understanding

Willis photo“As we all do, I see life change for people as they grow older; this has been true for my mother back in Delaware and for Kim’s mother here locally,” he says. “When we’re younger, I think we tend not to see a need. But now, as a baby boomer, I would say that every day, I witness someone who could be helped in some way by something WesleyLife offers.”

Kim says she and Rich are always looking for ways to inspire others in charitable giving, and supporting WesleyLife made sense not only in its breadth of services, but its alignment with the couple’s values.

“Social services are primarily what Rich and I focus on as a couple and as a family, and WesleyLife reaches out to on a holistic approach to entire families who have a need of some kind,” Kim says. “I feel it’s important to help by putting dollars behind worthy organizations and efforts, but if we can help get stories out there of the good works the organizations do, that is also so worthwhile.

“Something Wesley has will touch everyone, but not everyone knows that. It’s important to get people out to tour the communities or see the services in action; once someone does that, they see things differently. You gain opportunity by helping someone experience even a small part of what you have to offer.”

"I will never forget the impact"

Rich can vouch for the impact of experience; he recalls volunteering years ago to deliver a WesleyLife Meals on Wheels route, and it broadened his understanding of one of the needs WesleyLife meets locally.

“I will never forget the impact that driver had on the individuals he was calling on,” Rich says. “I remember one particular client; her name was Louise, and that driver may very well have been the only contact she had that day, or maybe even that week.

“The meal was important for her, but the human interaction was perhaps just as important. I saw it and felt it and understood the value of it, and I raised my hand and said, ‘Rob, if there is any other way I can help, put me to work.’ So here we are, helping to help support Wesley financially and with our time, and we’re glad to be a part of things.”

WesleyLife values Rich and Kim’s leadership. To join them in financially supporting WesleyLife’s services and increasing awareness about organization’s offerings, please visit

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