In YSI’s care as a child, he gives back to the agency with gratitude

Don Kennel was in foster care through Youth Service for several years as a child, along with his two younger brothers. Now working in information technology at mutual fund company Vanguard, Don has never forgotten the care he received from YSI. He has volunteered and donated to the agency over the years and most recently, contributed $500 he received from Vanguard as part of a prestigious employee award.

“I do what I can for YSI as often as I can, in gratitude for all I got from them,” Don said, citing the support provided by YSI, from group meetings with other foster children to making available different programs throughout the city, as hugely beneficial. “Kids in that situation feel very vulnerable,” he said. “To be around other kids and have a place to go is important so you don’t feel like you’re alone. Some of the coolest things I remember is our group meetings every other Thursday. To this day, I’m still friends with a lot of the kids I was there with.”

Don, who was in the fifth grade when he and his brothers entered YSI’s care, also pointed to the “great support system” provided by YSI’s case workers. “Case workers encouraged us and pointed me in the right direction,” he said.

Don was the recipient of Vanguard’s Award for Excellence, which is presented to crew members (employees) who demonstrate particular excellence in the performance of their duties. Nominated by his peers, Don was praised for his selfless teamwork, client focus, and work ethic. Fellow crew cited Don as a role model who is always eager to learn and share new skills and called him “the professor” because he is always helping, guiding, and assisting others.

Don attributes his work ethic to the example set by his grandfather, but said YSI “tied into that by showing me and the other kids what we needed to prosper.”

Don, a Philadelphia resident, joined Vanguard in 2008, starting as a contractor in the mailroom and literature fulfillment department before landing in the information technology (IT) division and working his way up. He is now an infrastructure systems engineer in an IT operations group that supports the Vanguard network.

In between his workload and caring for his family, Don is finishing his degree in information systems from Villanova. Any spare time he has goes toward home improvements and his hobby, photography.