Westport Library Q&A: Tom Henske

Wed, Nov 1, 2023
EJ Crawford

Tom Henske (right) in The Westport Library recording studio with audio engineer Travis Bell

Tom Henske has been a leader in the financial industry for nearly three decades — building an enviable resume and retiring in 2020 to focus on his current passion project: Total Cents. Total Cents endeavors to help parents, grandparents, and guardians get comfortable with teaching their kids about money and the importance of finances. A successful venture has become something even more, including a community partnership podcast that Tom hosts and produces in conjunction with the Library.

Tom is also a dedicated Westporter, having lived in the town for 18 years with his family. A former three-time NCAA champion soccer player at the University of Virginia, he served as an assistant coach with the Staples High School boys’ team for 11 years, and he has been actively involved in a myriad of community projects.

He recently took some time to talk with us about his podcast, engaging with the local community, and why he chose to invest his money — and time — with the Library.

Westport Library: How did you first get involved with the Library?

Tom Henske: I first crossed paths with The Westport Library during its transformation from a traditional library to a state-of-the-art hub for the community. Bill Harmer, introduced to me by [former Staples boys’ soccer coach and 06880 Blog founder] Dan Woog, reached out with an intriguing proposal: a podcast partnership. But as we brainstormed, we both had this "aha moment": Why not go beyond a standard personal finance podcast and create something that engages the entire community?

We realized that financial literacy is a universal need — it touches students, parents, grandparents, schools, local businesses, and professionals. So, we set out to make the Library a rallying point for financial education, a place where the whole community could come together for a common cause.

How did that involvement evolve into engagement and giving?

As the project gained momentum, I found myself flooded with speaking requests. Whether it was corporations, financial advisory firms, or parent groups at schools, everyone wanted to hear about financial literacy. That's when it hit me: I could turn these speaking engagements into opportunities for giving back. Instead of accepting speaker fees, I asked the venues to donate to The Westport Library. It was my way of showing gratitude for the Library's early belief in my vision. It's a win-win, really. They supported me, and now I get to support them in return. 

In your view, why do libraries matter?

Libraries are more than just buildings filled with books. They're sanctuaries. They're places where people can study, meet friends, or simply escape into a good read. Our library, one of the few five-star libraries in the country, is a cornerstone of our community. It's a place where I know my kids are safe, whether they're studying or just hanging out. And honestly, how many places can offer that kind of peace of mind? 

Why do you give to support The Westport Library?

I've been a financial advisor for 27 years, and I always say, “Your checkbook reflects your values.” The Westport Library aligns perfectly with my values. They're doing incredible work that benefits everyone in the community. While I may not be setting any donation records, I make it a point to contribute whenever I can. Every little bit helps, and it sends a strong message: We, as a community, believe in the power and potential of our library. 

What would you tell others considering donating to support the Library?

Supporting the Library is really an investment in our community. So, when you contribute, you’re not just enriching a single institution; you're touching the lives of everyone who engages with the Library’s resources and services.

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