End-of-year update: Tom Beerntsen, Kerry Wood Foundation
By David Sharos For The Sun December 19, 2012 2:52PM
My Chef's Bill Garlough, YMCA Vice President Tom Beerntsen, and Naperville Bank and Trust's Tom Miers at NCTV17's 25th anniversary open house in February. | Submitted
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:08AM
Editor’s note: If you’ve been wondering what happened to a few of the people The Sun has written about, we have been, too. Beginning today, The Sun will feature a few of the people featured in 2012 and where their stories have gone since we last reported on them.
A former chief executive with the YMCA who planned to retire at age 63 is now saying he plans to work “as long as my employers will have me.”
Tom Beerntsen served as the president and CEO of the YMCA in Naperville beginning in 2004 until a merger took place with Chicago in 2011, and he became executive vice president of association development at the YMCA Metro Chicago.
Then the Woods came calling, as in Cubs’ former pitching star Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah. The couple was looking to hand over the reins of a foundation they had started a year earlier and figured the long-time not-for-profit guru was their man.
“I really expected to move up to Door County and retire, but this job with the Wood Family Foundation is wonderful,” Beerntsen said, who took over as executive director on Nov. 1. “I’ve found that Kerry is sort of the ‘Bart Starr’ of 2012. He’s very humble and very passionate about what he wants to do for kids, and he cares about Chicago. I used to work with 3,500 employees and now there are just three, including myself. It’s fun not having all the bureaucracy.”
Beerntsen said his first six weeks have found him “walking through doors others couldn’t hope to open” thanks to Wood’s name and that his goal is to “translate Kerry’s legacy as an All-Star pitcher into a legacy of philanthropy.”
“We are working with four neighborhoods in Chicago, including Inglewood, Lawndale, Humbolt Park and Austin, and deciding what we want to do,” Beerntsen said. “One of the challenges for me is the impulse to try and save every kid, and we have to focus on a small universe of people. There are a lot of kids out there struggling, and it’s frustrating when you can’t reach them all.”