It all started in 1997. That’s when Burbank, California, Kiwanis member Stephen Veres read a newspaper story about a widowed mother who was killed as she was putting gas in her car. The woman was struck by a hit-and-run, drunken driver. She died at the scene, leaving six young orphans destitute and homeless.
Heartbroken, Veres knew he had to help. He wrote to fellow Kiwanians and within days, countless gift certificates and checks showed-up. They continued to arrive for the next three years, until the children became secure.
Realizing there are many more children in need of help, the Burbank club established an ongoing program, Kiwanis Cares About Children.
Mike Hele and his fourteen-year-old daughter, Allison, were among the first families receiving KCAC attention. Mike had an inoperable tumor on his neck, which spread to his vocal cords. A single parent, Mike wasn’t concerned about himself but was worried about Allison and her care after his death. The Kiwanis club stood by him, and after his death, members carried out his wishes, helping to find a good home for Allison. Afterward, they supported her education and paid legal fees.
Recently, the KCAC helped the Satterstrom family, who didn't have money to pay their murdered son’s funeral expenses. The KCAC also provided food, clothes and other funds for the boy’s six siblings.
“I’m so proud of our club,” Veres says, “and so thankful to our members for their generosity.” — Kevin P. McKenna