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Hometown connections lead to computer donations

KITTSON CENTRAL students with the Chromebooks and charging station donated by Vivacity through KIDSon Cares. Back row: Dana Brown, Eli Muir, Brandon Ristad, Ethan Hanson, Tyler Hennen, Avery Wiese and Aidra Johnson; front row, Morgan Bergeron, McKinley Folland, Annika Johnson, Lora Gatheridge, Morgan Turn and Gus Gunnarson. (Submitted photo)

By Anna Jauhola
Two northwest Minnesota natives recently gave a big donation through a local charity to help kids at Kittson County schools.
Scott and Lisa (Berg) Zak are part-owners in Vivacity, a public benefit corporation based in St. Paul, Minn. Lisa is a Hallock native and grew up with Jacob Hook, who co-founded KIDSon Cares.
“We’ve known each other since we were little, little, in elementary school,” Lisa said, noting they graduated together in 1995 from Kittson Central High School.
Scott is from Newfolden, Minn., and met both Hook and Lisa in college through his roommates – Matt Gustafson, Ryan Johnson and Andy Bergeron, who were all from Hallock.
So when the Zaks heard about Hook’s mission to serve kids in Kittson County through KIDSon Cares, they were on board right away as monetary donors to provide winter apparel. Then, as their company Vivacity grew, it led to donating computer equipment — 20 Chromebooks, plus charging stations, each to Kittson Central, Lancaster and Tri-County schools.
“We at Vivacity are a public benefit corporation, which simply means we are a for-profit enterprise with a focus on philanthropy,” Scott said. “That’s part of our mission at this organization and we feel Jake has a great one there in the area.”
“Yeah, what a fit,” Lisa said. “We own part of a philanthropy business and with Jake’s connection and our relationship, it was just a great way for us to leverage our business and our supply chain to be able to help out the area I grew up in.”
Vivacity is specifically focused on education technology for kindergarten through 12th grade, including Chromebooks, protective cases and other hardware. When they realized the need was there for updated equipment in Kittson County schools, the Zaks worked with Hook to get the equipment to the schools.

LANCASTER STUDENTS JAZZLYN THOMPSON, DYLAN JOHNSON and JULIA KUJAVA pose with Chromebooks and the charging station donated by Vivacity through KIDSon Cares. (Submitted photo)

Scott said the combined goal of supplementing what the facilities already had and ensuring kids who needed better access to computers drove the decision to help. Hook led the communication with schools and relayed the needs back to Vivacity, Scott said.
“We’re just very pleased with what Jake is doing there,” Scott added. “We’re excited about what it is he’s got going in the future as well.”
“I’m just so proud of Jake and the work he’s done,” Lisa said. “So any opportunity we can find to support him and KIDSon Cares, we will absolutely capitalize on it.”

TRI-COUNTY SCHOOL in Karlstad received 20 Chromebooks and a charging station from Vivacity through KIDSon Cares recently. Pictured, l-r, Adeline Oliver, Amber Wojciechowski, Straet Spilde, Bowyn Johnson and Aleigha Lefrooth; in front, Brant Pearson. (Submitted photo)

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