Gene Krizek, the charismatic founder of Americans Helping Americans®, has earned a place in the hearts of thousands of Americans in need. We celebrate his 85th year by sharing with you a glimpse into his amazing life.
Growing up as a child of the Great Depression and witnessing the hardship all around him helped spur Gene on to a lifelong path of helping those less fortunate.
A former Congressional Administrative Assistant and a retired Foreign Service Officer, he began his distinguished career serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. After the war he distinguished himself in the USAF reserves for 39 more years.
In turn he worked with both President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960’s, first as the Director of White House Liaison with the State Department, then administering the 1962 National Conference on Bail and Criminal Justice.
Gene went on to earn a special commendation from President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 for his efforts in South East Asia. His work helped 130,000 refugees fleeing the communist regime make a new beginning in America. These refugees, known as boat people, risked drowning in the South China Sea in their attempts to escape to freedom in the West.
Ending his military service in 1985 with the rank of Colonel and earning the Legion of Merit award, Gene continued to give back even after retirement. Through Georgetown University, he joined efforts with Bob Geldof, the British musician behind the Band-Aid Trust concerts for African famine relief. His expertise helped ensure the best distribution of funds raised to help feed the millions of starving people in Ethiopia.
Always ready to do more and help more people, Gene went on to found Christian Relief Services Charities, with his wife Adeline as his first volunteer co-founder and board member, in 1985. Since founding its offshoot, Americans Helping Americans® in 1990, he has been honored in Appalachia for his work with the disadvantaged, and was named a “Guardian Angel of West Virginia”.
Gene’s zest for philanthropy has seen him support schools, hospitals, orphanages and self-help programs in Africa, Lithuania, and Haiti. And of course, right here at home Gene has contributed so much to breaking the cycle of poverty, including establishing affordable housing for the homeless and safe shelters for survivors of domestic violence.
Eighty-six years old and Gene is still going strong, a real inspiration for all of us!