2010: Ed Keener

Ed Keener, Fund For Idaho, Nelle Tobias AwardA deeply religious man very much at home with the Earth, Ed Keener is a peacekeeper, a bridge-builder, and can truly open his heart to all people.

Born in Caldwell in 1945, his family moved to Boise two years later. Ed met his future wife, Martha Rearick, in 7th grade. Their son Brent, daughter-in-law Patty, and grandchildren Tanner, Madilynn, and Landon live in Mountain Home.

After graduating from College of Idaho, Ed followed his call to serve, attending Spokane’s Whitworth College for religious studies and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He served as pastor of a Presbyterian & UCC ministry in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1980 to 1985. Then he and Martha returned west so Ed could become Pastor at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, WA. Ed retired from active ministry in 2000 so he and Martha could return to Boise to help care for his father, Keith, steward the family property, and devote more time and effort to volunteer service. The projects he devotes his time to include:

The Interfaith Sanctuary Homeless Shelter
In 2005, when social workers m religious leaders to share information on Boise’s homeless crisis, Ed helped gather interfaith leaders for discussions that resulted in formation of Interfaith Sanctuary Homeless Services. Ed helped secure a temporary location that allowed Sanctuary to open within 10 days of the initial meeting. And in 2007, Sanctuary moved into its permanent location, which accommodates 130-155 homeless persons per night and provides 56,000 bed nights per year.

Kessler-Keener Extraordinary Witness Lecture Series
In 1998 Ed, his siblings Dorothy and Gerry, their father Keith, and Pastor Mark Davis of Boise First Presbyterian Church created Kessler-Keener Lectures as a non-profit, non-denominational organization to honor the legacy of human rights work of Ed’s mother, Margaret Keener (1907-1993) and grandfather, Harry Kessler (1877-1958). To date, the “Extraordinary Witness” Lecture Series has produced eleven successful events with audiences up to 1,800, providing thousands of Idahoans with opportunities to be inspired by people known nationally and internationally for the human rights and peace work.

Stewardship of the Family Home and Land
Lots of people talk about living a lifestyle that honors our responsibility to give future generations the same access to clean air and water, tillable soil, and direct contact with nature that we enjoy. Taking the idea “bloom where you’re planted,” Ed and Martha live this value every day on the three acre piece of ground Ed’s parents bought in 1947. They raise much of the food they eat, including honey, chickens, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. They also share much of this food with others.

And Still More
In addition to all this, Ed and Martha have given large amounts of time and leader-ship to numerous organizations, serving as a board member, featured speaker, educator, and volunteer for many of them. These include the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, Collister Neighborhood Association, Idaho Smart Growth, Ten Thousand Villages, Boise Peace Village, Idaho Citizens Action Network, Idaho Botanical Garden, Idaho Peace Coalition, State Street Transit Corridor Planning team, and Ada County Highway District Neighborhood Advisory committee, Friends in Action, Idaho Commission for the Blind, Boise School District, and the Garden City Library.

Together they have provided long-term financial support to many of these groups, as well as to Church World Service, Heifer Project International, Boise First Congregational UCC, the Shalom Center, Bread for the World, and Alternatives for Living Simply.

To some, “philanthropy” is primarily associated with money and a “philanthropist” is one who gives large sums to charitable causes. While Ed and Martha Keener contribute financially to many organizations and manage the endowment for the “Extraordinary Witness” Lecture Series, they are first and foremost a beautiful example of a much more complete definition of philanthropy rooted in committed, in-it-for-the-long-haul action and service. Their actions inspire others to act.