Tri-Valley Hero: Lars Ho-Tseung, supporting the children

'All my life I wanted to be part of the healthy development of kids,' Role Model recipient says

Pleasanton's Lars Ho-Tseung has always had a wide variety of interests. He played four high school sports, became a private pilot and is an avid fan of both tennis and golf. But for as long as he can remember, his real passion has been taking care of kids.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Ho-Tseung earned his spending money babysitting the neighborhood kids. Then, as soon as he started as an engineering major at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana, he found the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program of America and became truly engaged.

"All my life I wanted to be part of the healthy development of kids," Ho-Tseung, 53, said. "I had a few little brothers through the (Big Brothers) program, and it was a really rewarding experience."

When Ho-Tseung and his wife Kristen had children of their own, he was naturally involved in their kids' activities, coaching his daughter's softball games and playing golf with his son. But it was the neighborhood Indian Princess Program that led Ho-Tseung to become an integral part of the Tri-Valley YMCA and the community it serves.

Ho-Tseung and his daughter, Lauren, joined Indian Princesses -- the YMCA's father-daughter program -- to be a part of the camping and community service activities that engage dads in their daughters' lives.

Recognizing all the benefits of the program, Ho-Tseung said he naturally became involved with the leadership, ultimately becoming the nation chief of the 300-member organization. His relationship with the YMCA and the services it offers deepened quickly.

"We like to think our city is different," said Ho-Tseung, who now serves as the board chair for the Tri-Valley YMCA. "But there is a tremendous amount of need here. The YMCA makes a huge difference."

Ho-Tseung would much rather talk about what the YMCA does for the community than what he does for the YMCA. "I am just a volunteer," he explained. "I am just there to support the people doing the real work."

His humble attitude is no surprise to Kenny Altenburg, the YMCA staff member who nominated Ho-Tseung for the 2016 Tri-Valley Hero Role Model award. Having watched Ho-Tseung in action for over three years, Altenburg recognized the qualities that make Ho-Tseung a valued member of the YMCA family.

"Lars is an incredibly busy man; he owns his own business, he has his own kids," he said. "But he is motivated to dedicate a tremendous number of hours to make sure others have the same opportunities his kids had. He is dedicated to his kids, he spends time with them and he wants them to be successful. That translates directly to what he does for the YMCA."

Ho-Tseung's longtime friend Herb Ritter echoes the sentiment, describing Ho-Tseung as a thinker who is ardent in his support of kids. "Lars doesn't want to be the guy at the front of the room; he just wants to get the work done," Ritter said. "And he's gifted in his ability to motivate people to get involved without making them feel they are obligated to do something."

That gift has probably been instrumental in the YMCA fundraisers Ho-Tseung is involved with each year, raising money to support after-school care at three of Pleasanton's seven elementary schools and the recently opened Family Wellness Center located at 5000 Pleasanton Ave.

"We held our ninth golf tournament this past April," Ho-Tseung said, adding that he loves to get his friends involved in the community events. "In the past three years, we have raised over half of a million dollars; almost all of that is poured right back into the local community."

Altenburg called Ho-Tseung the driving force behind both the golf tournament and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship breakfast hosted each year by the YMCA on the Monday following the national holiday honoring the American civil rights leader.

"Lars is always looking for ways to take the events to the next level," Altenburg said. "He's never complacent; he wants to figure out how to fill the need. He gives it all, and it makes a difference."

Hero FYI

* Lars Ho-Tseung is CEO and a partner at his company, Custom Label.

* He recently added campaign manager to his resume, working hard for Herb Ritter's run for Pleasanton City Council.

* Ho-Tseung is a private pilot who loves to fly to Catalina Island and Sedona, Ariz.

* He was a Sunday school teacher when he met his wife, Kristen.

* Received a 2015 Juanita Haugen Community of Character Award.

* His son Colin attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, where he was chosen as a member of the college's competition flight team. His daughter Lauren is a senior at Amador Valley High School, where she is student body president.

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