10 Who Make a Difference: Kate Welp - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

10 Who Make a Difference: Kate Welp

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Kate Welp with a little girl in Ecuador. Kate Welp with a little girl in Ecuador.

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- We are proud to introduce to you Kate Welp, one of our KTTC/United Way of Olmsted County 10 Who Make a Difference award recipients.

She's the founder and executive director for Hands for Humanity, a non-profit organization that meets the needs of under-served children and families, primarily from Ecuador."Extend a hand, Enrich a life." That's the motto for Kate Welp's organization, and it's quite fitting. In the organization's 16 years, it has improved the lives of nearly 200 children.

Welp started the organization after adopting her daughter, Maya, nearly 16 years ago, and wanted to repay her debt to Ecuador for giving her the greatest gift she has ever received.

“The process was difficult and I ended up spending quite a few months there. When I returned, I thought it would be fun to give back to this community that was so supportive of me and gave us the best gift of all. I wanted to try to pay back my debt,” said Welp.

Welp never intended the organization to take off as it did, but once she had done one volunteer trip, she couldn't stop.

“I thought I was going to do one little project that was going to pay off my debt, and I was going to be done. No, I was never able to envision this. It's just how it was meant to be and one thing continues to lead to the other,” said Welp.

The rest is history.

Welp has led Hands for Humanity to complete 15 medical missions in Ecuador, along with countless trips focusing on community service at the orphanage they set up in the country, the next one being in October.

Her organization has also provided funds for the advancement of young women in educational endeavors, as well as brought over multiple children from a variety of countries for cardiac surgery, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Despite all of her momentous achievements with this organization, Welp remains humble, and wants everyone to know that she could not do it without the help of the entire team, the doctors, nurses, and community members who volunteer their time to serve the needs of others.

And not only has her unrelenting work and passion for helping others improved the lives of hundreds of children, it's through volunteer work that Welp helps herself.

“It's more than helping the kids down there. We get to help ourselves, too. And I hope our volunteers come away a changed person. Our tag line with the foundation is 'Extend a hand, enrich a life' and it's definitely our own lives that we are enriching,” said Welp.

“It sounds like a cliché, but you get more out of it then you put into it. It's so true. I think of the rewards that we have received from these kids in Ecuador. I would encourage anyone to just go out and volunteer. They can do it in their school, do it in their neighborhood, it doesn't have to be all the way to Ecuador. Just get out there and help someone else,” said Welp.

And for those who don't think they are capable to serve or volunteer? Welp offered some sound encouragement.

“Many people say they don't have the skills to do this or do that, and we just tell people they have to have a willingness to serve others and the rest will fall into place,” said Welp.

Welp said she is extremely humbled and honored to be one of the KTTC/United Way of Olmsted County 10 Who Make a Difference award recipients. However, she doesn't see it being just her, but also the countless volunteers who help her and the organization, whether they are here in Rochester or in Ecuador, as well.

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