John and Lisa Kapuza met at Lisa’s first Red Cross board meeting. John was a board member, and Lisa was the brand new Executive Director. Their relationship developed over time and they got married two years ago.
John grew up in Buffalo, New York. The son of blue collar parents, John was the first in his family to graduate from college. His parents always emphasized education, and helping others. After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Buffalo, he got his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. He came to Yakima 20 years ago after passing the Washington bar exam, and now works for Abeyta Nelson Injury Law. John has two sons – Joshua is a senior and Owen is a junior – both at West Valley High School, and both planning to attend WSU. Lisa has three “kiddos.” Jonathan is 19, and a freshman at WSU. Jacob, 16, is a Junior at West Valley High School, and Gracie, 13, is in the 8th grade at St. Joseph’s.
Lisa grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Communications. She studied broadcast journalism and says her dream was to be the next Tom Brokaw. In 1990, after college, Lisa moved to Yakima with her parents when her dad went to work for Tree Top. Lisa worked in marketing at McDonald’s before serving as the Executive Director for the Yakima Red Cross chapter.
The couple love activities like camping, fishing and skiing, and treasure time with their five children. The family eats dinner together every evening.
Both have been involved with United Way for many years. John has been a Pillar, a loaned executive and has co-chaired the attorneys campaign. Lisa in her role with the Red Cross helped with the campaign, did employee group presentations, and partnered with United Way in responding to community disasters like the Taylor Bridge Fire in Kittitas County. Lisa says “I saw the impact United Way has through funding and partnering with local nonprofits. Their funding supported Red Cross volunteers each year in helping families affected by house fires and other disasters.”
John and Lisa are passionate about helping others. John says, “I was brought up to value helping people, and we try to instill that value in our own children by hopefully being their role models. We volunteer together as a family. People helping people is what makes community happen” As Pillars, they appreciate that United Way raises money locally, and it all stays here in the community. Their hopes for our community center around seeing the valley thrive by increasing economic development. “We need to keep the next generation here, by providing more opportunities and better jobs. Yakima is a great place to live, and can be even better if we work on fighting poverty, the lack of education, and break that cycle. There are so many families struggling to get by, struggling to give their children a better life. Helping people become more productive members of society and be able to give back in their turn – that feels great.”