Empathy has no boundaries for Kadens family
December 27th, 2016
Chicago entrepreneur Pete Kadens and his wife, Amy, started a tradition a few years ago in which they buy presents during the holidays for families in need.
Knowing they’d be in Florida over Hanukkah and Christmas, the Kadens this year checked in with the Salvation Army in Sarasota for names of three families truly needing some holiday spirit.
The Kadens, with their children (ages 6, 3 and 2) shopped, wrapped and hand-delivered gifts to three families.
“My wife and I want our kids to be nice and inclusive and have empathy. You can tell your kids they’re lucky, but they don’t know they are until they see real world examples,” he says. “There are people, especially in this new administration, who feel poverty is a disease of laziness. That’s just not the case. There are a lot of reasons people get into desperate situations. I want my children to see a person who’s poor and know it’s not because they did anything wrong.”
Helping the homeless has been a life’s mission for Kadens, who in high school spent three days in a homeless shelter to better understand the issue for a school project.
He went on to earn a degree from Bucknell University before founding Acquirent LLC of Evanston and SoCore Energy in Chicago (it sold to Edison International). Kadens has since co-founded GTI Investments, which grows and dispenses medicinal marijuana.
On the nonprofit scene, Kadens has served on the boards of the Cara Program and StreetWise, which support Chicago’s homeless. Amy Kadens co- founded Share Our Spare, which collects new and gently used infant and toddler items and distributes them to families in need.
When they’re in Chicago for the holidays, Kadens works with Common Pantry to find families to support. And when the holidays take them to Ohio to see Amy’s family or North Carolina to see his, they find similar programs.
“This is the first year I felt my oldest really got it,” he says. “She was thoughtful about what a 7-year-old would like.”