Karen Kamerschen was born in Laurium, a small town in the Upper Peninsula, but moved south with her family a year later. Her life as a student, psychologist and now a retiree has taken her from Michigan State University to Texas and back to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, but her love for the U.P. remains. As often as she can, she vacations there.
“When I cross the bridge, my heart rate drops,” she said. “It’s incredibly beautiful. I love it. Nature at its best.”
For the last 15 years, Karen has been one of our most dedicated supporters — giving enough to provide nearly 260,000 meals to neighbors in need across our service area. Over the last few years, she’s designated her donations to the U.P.
“I have strong feelings about people having enough food to eat,” she said. “I’ve been blessed and I really feel a commitment to sharing my blessings with others who have not been as blessed. Food is pretty basic. People need to eat.”
After getting three degrees from MSU, Karen moved to Austin, Texas to pursue her career. Eventually, she set up a private psychology practice in Houston. There, she met her husband, Robert Pearson MD, a psychiatrist who joined her practice. They lived in Houston for many years before moving back to Michigan two decades ago.
“My husband was alive then and we wanted to donate somewhere that was well run. The food bank has an excellent reputation,” she said.
Karen volunteers in the community as well, including at her parish’s school, helping kids with math and reading, but, she shared, “At 77, donating is easier than volunteering!”
Support from donors like Karen is essential to the food bank’s mission. She’s helping ensure we can continue to bring Mobile Food Pantries — stocked with plenty of fresh produce and other food — to high-need communities in the U.P.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “We’re supposed to treat others as we’d want to be treated. If I was hungry, I’d want them to help me. Whatever your skills and talents and blessings are I think they should be shared.”
Read more stories of hunger heroes in our 40 Years 40 Faces series!