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Former pastor enjoys new role as director of foundation

September 26, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

marlob@herald-mail.com

As executive director of the Aarsand Family Foundation, Torben Aarsand says people often don't understand how foundations work.

"We don't just give money away, we have to raise it, too," he said.

An Oct. 23 concert at The Maryland Theatre featuring the music of David Phelps, a contemporary Christian artist, has been arranged to help the foundation fulfill its money-raising needs.

"But even more, I want to introduce Phelps to this community," Aarsand said of the gospel artist. "The first time I heard his CD in my car, I was absolutely blown away."

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Impressed with Phelps' range and power, Aarsand said he called the agency that handles the artist and the concert was arranged.

Tickets are available at the theater for the 7 p.m. show and cost $25, $30 and $35. Phelps' new CD, "Life Is A Church," comes out Thursday.

An ordained Lutheran pastor for 26 years, Aarsand was pastor of Haven Lutheran Church in Hagerstown from 1997 until 2004, when he left to become executive director of the foundation that bears his family name.

"My family came to me and asked me to start the foundation," Aarsand said. Over the last year, he has worked to develop programs and to establish a mission statement.

That mission statement professes to directly helping adolescents committed to improving themselves through education and skill development as well as helping organizations that assist young people in their endeavors.

With the proceeds from the Phelps concert, Aarsand said he hopes the foundation will be able to underwrite the Youth of the Year program at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Washington and Frederick counties.

"My brother, Knut, was an entrepreneur, a risk taker and my hero," Aarsand said. Building a business that came to include 51 Taco Bell and KFC franchises in the mid-Atlantic region, Aarsand's brother became very successful.

When he died three years ago, his son and daughter were left to run the company with headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md.

The idea for the foundation came because the family has always felt strongly about helping others, Aarsand said.

"We are blessed to be a blessing," he said. "It's like paying forward."

The company supports the foundation 100 percent, Aarsand said.

"I sat down with my brother the Christmas before he died and he said he wanted the company to become more philanthropic."

Aarsand, a resident of Hagerstown, said his brother got into some trouble during his youth in New Jersey, Aarsand said.

"Our father pointed him on a new path and my brother learned to want to do better ... to reach for the stars."

For more information on the foundation, the Web site is www.aarsand.com/foundation.

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