The Herriges – A life of distinction

It’s funny how a simple trip to First National Bank 25 years ago could have such a positive impact on the lives on hundreds of children, but indeed, it has.

This year’s Life of Distinction Award honorees, Ken and his wife Mary (Betty) Herriges have been supporters of Catholic Charities for decades—even before our books started keeping track of such things. But when Ken made that errand in the early 1990s, he spotted a large brick building that warranted a second look. When he saw the sign for St. Joseph’s Home for Children, it brought him back to his high school days at Cretin High School, when St. Joe’s was located near his school. While he knew of and supported Catholic Charities, this visit made him realize the breadth of services offered throughout the greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region.

“I felt sorry for kids in an orphanage and that carries over,” he explained. Ken grew up with a father who said ‘If you can afford to go out for dinner Saturday night, you can afford to give to the parish plate on Sunday morning,’ and giving became a way of life.

The relationship between Catholic Charities has flourished ever since that fateful errand to the bank.

“It touched my heart that children have a safe place to go when they’re in trouble in their home,” Mary said. “I wish they would grow up in a family that is like ours. I just hope they grow up happy and healthy.”

Ken and Mary brought several bicycles to St. Joes that Christmas and it began a tradition that continues to this day as they recently brought a truck full of toys and bicycles to the Catholic Charities’ In Kind Warehouse on the campus of St. Joseph’s Home for Children.

St. Joe’s has had a special place in their heart’s ever since, but the Herriges family is one comprised of big hearts.

Their generosity expands beyond the walls of St. Joe’s. They are strong supporters of Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day Center in downtown Saint Paul, where they were one of the first to step forward as contributors to the new vision for the Dorothy Day Center which will provide dignified shelter, housing and services to those in need. “It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live like that. They need the help,” Ken said. “We’re pretty proud of our support of Catholic Charities. I feel that we are blessed and that is part of the reason for giving.”