by Liz Onufer | photo by Soul of Photography

Helping Children in Need is the Calling of Charles and Linda Van Kessler

faces_vankessler2Charles and Linda Van Kessler may label themselves “two very ordinary people,” but this Encinitas couple are far from it.

Linda, originally from New Jersey, started her career as a staff assistant to President Ford and later worked for Dr. Billy Graham for 25 years. In 2001 Linda relocated to San Diego with her son and late husband. The family met Charles through an ad for a diamond ring, and they became close friends. When Linda’s husband passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack, Charles helped support Linda and her son. They married two years later.

Charles has called San Diego home since 1996. Born in Amsterdam at the start of WWII, he was placed in a state-run orphanage at the age of two. After suffering many abuses, he ran away and survived on the streets. Charles joined the Dutch Army at 18 and in 1964 immigrated to the U.S.


Names: Charles and Linda Van Kessler
Community: Encinitas
Volunteer Affiliation: Passion 4 K.I.D.S.
Family: Sons – Rali and Greg; Daughter – Marilyn; Grandchildren – Cici, Jason, and Henley
Hobbies: Spending time with children, grandchildren, and traveling


 

faces_vankessler3Charles’s difficult life experiences were the impetus to start Passion 4 Life, a liquid vitamin and mineral company, and Passion 4 K.I.D.S., the family charity to support children in need. The two go hand in hand, Linda explained, “To build a healthier body and mind and to be able to work with children in need.” Linda’s passion to give back began after her son left for college and she felt a void in her life. For Charles, Linda said, “He felt God calling him to help children who were like him – raised in difficult circumstances beyond their control who needed to know that someone loved and cared about them.”

With the support of donors, volunteers, and a portion of the profits from Passion 4 Life, Charles and Linda have served many children and families around San Diego, including an El Cajon couple who have adopted 18 special needs kids and baby Izaiah who was hit by a teen drunk driver and paralyzed. “We hope we can be an example of two very ordinary people – no prior experience in setting up a nonprofit, middle class with few resources, helping with situations we previously knew nothing about – who stepped out of our comfort zone to let God interrupt our life with a purpose and mission we are passionate about, yet totally inadequate in our own strength to accomplish,” Linda shared. Today, the couple work tirelessly to support children in need and raise the funds necessary to provide better lives for them.