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Good Energy: Len Kannapell, volunteer on the move

Len (center, red jacket) celebrates with team at Mt. Rainier summit.

For Energy Management Analyst Len Kannapell, giving back isn’t the kind thing to do – it’s the right thing to do. From organizing neighborhood food drives to mountain climbing fundraisers, Len has donated his time and energy to different causes for 20-plus years. And there’s no stopping him. 
“A month-long climbing trip to Nepal in 1998 opened my eyes to the hardships and joys of those living in a developing country,” Len shared. “I wanted to do more than just visit; I wanted to have an impact.” 

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

He is also on Mitrata’s fundraising committee and has been a board member for eight years. For the past three years, he’s participated in the Miles for Mitrata Kids fundraiser, challenging himself to 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 aimed for 1,000 pull-ups. “I have perished,” Len noted wryly, “but I made it. We are still collecting donations through July – almost to my $3,000 goal!” As if that doesn’t exhaust him, he coordinates various drives for local people in need.  

“For four years, I’ve led a group of volunteers to sort and pack food at the Food Lifeline warehouse. And let’s get this straight: The best hits of the 70s and 80s music are blaring. Quite hip!” Len expressed. “I also organize an annual brunch for the Jubilee Women’s Center, deliver Thanksgiving meals to Patrick Place, collect gifts for an annual Christmas Giving Tree, make sandwiches at St. Benedict church for the Martin de Porres shelter, and collect/deliver non-perishables for my neighborhood Food Lifeline food drive, which I started when COVID hit.” 

Each April, Len is part of a different mission: He and fellow actor Mark Adolph perform a 45-minute theatrical drama called “Two Faces in the Shadows” at correctional centers. It’s a long-running program (20-plus years), covering Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, Kentucky, and British Columbia. 

Len (lower right) with food packing crew

“The prison ministry makes me most proud,” Len said. “There is always a feeling of apprehension when we arrive and unknowns during the Q&A portion. But we learn so much from the inmates. We want to bring a message of hope to the imprisoned and leave them one fundamental: You are not forgotten.” 

His advice to those looking to give back is simple: “Go for it – go big, go bold. Hesitation is an obstacle we all face. When you get involved, you change how you feel about your life and community.” 
Read on below to learn how to get involved with any of Len’s causes: 

  • Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children: Become a child sponsor. Write letters to the child you sponsor, establish 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-perishables, join a food sorting and packing event, or start a neighborhood food drive. Len says, “You meet like-minded folks who want to make a difference – and no one distastes old disco. Just sayin’.”