“The Next Door Inc. Recognizes Gorge Local, Lars Reierson, As 2023 Philanthropist of the Year”
As 2023 comes to a close, The Next Door Inc. (TNDI) is thrilled to announce Lars Reierson as the recipient of our Philanthropist of the Year award! This recognition celebrates Lars’ exceptional generosity, significant community involvement, and outstanding philanthropic impact on The Next Door and the Gorge communities we serve.
Growing up in the Hudson Valley of New York City, Lars recalls his parents donating what they could to charity. As time went on, he sought his own opportunities to immerse himself in community service and give back to help those less fortunate, finding his way to TNDI.
Over the years, Lars has helped our organization further our mission of opening doors to new possibilities by strengthening children and families and improving communities. In 2020, he was moved to make a significant contribution to TNDI after hearing there were local families who didn’t have money to buy groceries during the pandemic. Now, predicting the onset of a recession three years later, Lars has made tremendous strides to be proactive by leveraging his resources to give to those in need in big ways.
“Lars has been incredibly generous to The Next Door. He truly understands the work that we do and has deliberately chosen to give locally in order to help his neighbors. We’re so grateful for his support!” stated Janet Hamada, TNDI’s Executive Director.
In addition to supporting TNDI, Lars actively contributes countless hours of his time to the community as a volunteer firefighter at the Westside Fire Department and a volunteer ski instructor for the Special Olympics. He’s an advocate for and supporter of Oregon Health and Science University’s Type 1 Diabetes program as well as their program to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. In an effort to give youth born outside of the US a fair shot at education, Lars has also established a scholarship with the Rotary Club in memory of his mother.
“She was a World War II refugee who moved from Germany to America not knowing any English, with only the clothes on her back, and nothing else. She epitomized the American Dream,” Reierson shares. “She waitressed to pay her own way through college, got her Masters in Economics, and became one of the first women to work at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.”
After graduating from Harvard University, Lars moved across the country to pursue his own economics career in money management and investing at Capital Group in Los Angeles. He spent time in many other countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand while working his dream job. He skied any mountain slopes he could, swam and surfed some of the world’s best open waters, and studied languages to become multilingual in Arabic, French, Latin, Greek, and some German. Lars eventually chased the wind up north to the Gorge some 20+ years ago and settled into a house in Hood River.
During the winter, you’re sure to find him skiing on the mountain at both Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows. He spends the summer months enjoying swimming and windsurfing in the warmer water temperatures. And year-round, he’s a doting father whose greatest passion in life is anything that has to do with his two teenage boys including skiing, traveling, cooking with them, and supporting their own passions for music and football.
“It’s really important to me to demonstrate this to my kids,” Lars says about his award. “I want them to know how important community service is and how good it feels to give back to others in need.”
What’s in store for Lars’ future philanthropic work?
“One aspect of the community I really want to support are immigrants,” Lars shares, his aspirations reminiscent of his mother’s journey to the US. In the meantime, he’s also currently studying to become an EMT. He looks forward to getting more involved in the community by volunteering at the Hood River Valley High School and supporting the Hood River Aquatic Center.
On December 7th, TNDI held a private event where Lars was recognized for his contributions to our community and organization with staff and his family in attendance.
The Next Door, Inc. is a community-based social service organization with offices in The Dalles and Hood River. We serve 3,500 people annually in a seven-county region. We have nearly 100 employees facilitating over 35 programs, all working towards our mission. For more information, please visit https://nextdoorinc.org/.