Reverend Kent Nylander is a full time minister at Grace Lutheran Church in Bensenville, Illinois who has been volunteering for more than 28 years. For the past 23 years he has used his vacation time to lead bus tours and raise funds for Tabitha House, a residential shelter and human service organization as well as 37 other organizations worldwide.
In 1974 Reverend Nylander founded The Fellowship Tours Program as a way to raise funds for various service organizations. Each year Reverend Nylander organizes and conducts tours for individuals at a reduced rate. To date he has conducted approximately 120 tours to all 50 states, most of Canada and to countries throughout the world. All proceeds raised from each trip are distributed to needy organizations. Past recipients have included: Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago Area Literacy and Reading Project, Wycliff Bible Translators, World Vision, Focus on the Family and The Salvation Army.
In addition to his various other service projects he has worked diligently to help Tabitha House. Reverend Nylander volunteers hundreds of hours a month at Tabitha House. A never-ending advocate, he has also persuaded a network of churches to become involved. Each of the participating churches has agreed to act as a collection center where people can drop off new and used furniture for former homeless individuals preparing to move into their new home.
After a fire destroyed a thrift shop associated with Tabitha House, Reverend Nylander organized the transfer and funding of a donated building for the program. In addition he worked with the EPA to remove two fuel storage tanks that were behind the building, obtained legal services, appraisal, consultants and raised $14,500 to establish the Tabitha Thrift Shop, a place for donated and recycled furniture.
He has also raised $11,750 to purchase two used U-Haul trucks to pick up donated items in the Chicago area.
Furthermore, Reverend Nylander has taught three inner-city young men to drive tractor trailers and they are now productively employed. He and his wife have also opened up their home to a number of young people. One young woman who lived with them for three years has received her degree and is now teaching Special Education at an inner-city school.