Grants help Kiwanians comfort hospitalized kids

Grants help Kiwanians comfort hospitalized kids

Three Kiwanis clubs reached children in local hospitals, thanks to support from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund program. 

By Erin Chandler 

Through its Pediatric Medicine Support Grant Program, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund awarded grants for three worthy Kiwanis club projects in 2023. With that financial support, clubs are helping to renovate an entire hospital wing, bring much-needed equipment to a new play therapy room and jumpstart a new service for kids and families experiencing medical emergencies.  

Each of these projects had a common starting point: club partnerships with hospital staff and administration. After discussions regarding what kids need when dealing with overwhelming situations, each project was tailored to improve kids’ physical, mental and emotional health. 

Collaboration and renovation
Bustamante Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in Jamaica, serving tens of thousands of kids. When the Kiwanis Club of Toronto Caribbean, Ontario, Canada, reached out to ask how it could help, members learned about plans for a much-needed renovation of the burn unit and plastic surgery ward. They also learned there was no budget to get it done. With a pediatric medicine support grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund — and in collaboration with the Kiwanis Club of Capital City Kingston, Jamaica — the Toronto Caribbean club is helping to bring the ward up to medical standards and creating a safer and more welcoming environment for young patients.  

The renovation will include an aesthetic redesign, with new paint, curtains, artwork and greenery; an unused dressing room retrofitted as a separate area for outpatient procedures, to help reduce the risk of infection; and an upgraded dressing room for inpatients, with new equipment and supplies. Other additions include a designated area called The Reading Nook, which will be established and maintained by the Capital City Kingston club — and where local Builders Club and Key Club members will join the Kiwanians in reading to patients.

New hospital, new ways to serve kids
Like Bustamante Children’s Hospital, Trinity Hospital in the U.S. is vital to a large region. The hospital serves patients, including thousands of children, from 25 counties in North Dakota and Montana. The new Trinity Hospital facility, which opened in the spring of 2023, replaces its 100-year-old predecessor and boasts significant upgrades — thanks in part to the Kiwanis Club of Minot, North Dakota, and a pediatric medicine support grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.

For the new pediatric unit’s play therapy room, the Minot Kiwanians funded the purchase of all equipment and helped set it up prior to the grand opening. In the new room, supervised play therapy will help young patients and their families feel less anxious during the often-stressful experience of hospitalization — and help doctors better gauge and even speed along young patients’ progress.

Bringing bedside comfort
The Kiwanis Club of Long Beach, California, U.S., also aims to make hospital patients and their families more comfortable. Working with MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach administration and Child Life Program staff, the club developed its bedside comfort bags project. 

A pediatric medicine support grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund is helping the Long Beach Kiwanians purchase items for infants, kids and adolescents. Each month, the club will enlist the help of Key Club and Circle K International members to stuff the items — including books, toys, crayons, coloring books, journals and socks — into 125 drawstring bags, which are brightly colored and Kiwanis-branded. They’ll deliver the bags to the hospital, where the items will ease the anxiety of pediatric patients and their siblings — about 1,500 children per year. The club will also create and restock a pantry for parents and caregivers, so that Child Life specialists and nurses can provide toiletries, notepads, puzzle books and pencils, and even loan phone chargers as needed. 

How do I apply for a Pediatric Medicine Support Grant?
Made possible by the generosity of the Kiwanis governors’ classes of 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Pediatric Medicine Support Grant Program provides a onetime grant for clubs to fund projects that specifically support local children’s medical centers. Grant money can be used to purchase products or supplies for patients’ hospital stays or to support a capital improvement project. 

Learn more and apply for a pediatric medicine support grant at For more information about the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, visit

How your club can promote literacy

How your club can promote literacy

Looking for new ways to help kids read? Use these Kiwanis clubs as inspiration. 

By Julie Saetre 

To promote literacy and a love of reading, the Weston Kiwanis Club in Connecticut, U.S., helped a local school purchase a book vending machine. Does your club want to encourage kids in your community to read? Here are three more ideas that have worked for other Kiwanis clubs.  

Build a bookcase
The Conway Kiwanis Club in Arkansas, U.S., uses its Bookcase Project to promote literacy at an early age. Project recipients are 4- and 5-year-old preschool children enrolled in three area Head Start centers. Each child receives a personalized bookcase, a starter kit of age-appropriate books and a “reading buddy” — a stuffed animal. See how the club makes it work with local partners and supporters. 

Open some Little Free Libraries
In Waynesboro, Virginia, U.S., the Waynesboro Kiwanis Club opened Little Free Libraries in three local schools. Through Little Free Library, a Kiwanis International partner, Kiwanis clubs make books available in locations throughout their communities — and get help with construction and stewardship. In Waynesboro, the local Key Club also helps with upkeep and inventory. Learn how KIwanians in Waynesboro made multiple Little Free Libraries a reality. 

Give schools literacy tools
The Kiwanis Club of Papine in Kingston, Jamaica, helped 30 deaf students by providing access to virtual libraries and an online early childhood literacy tool. A Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant allowed the club to purchase more tablets and accessible devices. See how a club grant can transform your vision into a program.   

Kiwanis members promote literacy through free books in school 

Kiwanis members promote literacy through free books in school 

A Kiwanis club’s foundation grant helps a book vending machine encourage reading and kindness in school. 

By Bob Uzenoff, member of the Kiwanis Club of Weston ♦ Photographs by Reed Ameden, Lisa Barbiero 

Shelly Rinas, teacher-librarian at Weston Intermediate School (WIS) in Connecticut, U.S., dreamed of promoting literacy while supporting a positive school culture. In particular, she wanted to add a book vending machine to the school’s library. 

Such machines have become increasingly popular in elementary and middle schools. Students use tokens — coins made specifically for the machine — to “buy” a book from the device. 

At WIS, which serves about 450 children in grades three through five, the school budget combined with support from the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) was enough to purchase new titles for the vending machine over the years. But Rinas needed support to purchase the machine itself — along with a custom cover in Weston blue and gold, a four-year warranty and 150 coins. 

What to do?
Weston Public School Superintendent and former Kiwanian Lisa Barbieropointed Rinas to Reed Ameden, chair of the Kiwanis Club of Weston’s Philanthropy Committee.  

On January 25, Rinas submitted a grant application to the committee. 

In June, the Kiwanis Club of Weston Foundation agreed to provide half of the money needed if Rinas could find funding for the remainder. The Weston Intermediate School PTOpledged to match Kiwanis’s funding.  

On June 24, Rinas was able to order the book vending machine. 

Today, the machine stands at the heart of the school’s “Caught Being Kind” program. When someone sees a student doing a good deed, that student earns a token. The first recipient, Cole, was recognized for helping reshelve and organize books during a book exchange. 

Thanks for additional reporting to Reed Ameden, Shelly Rinas and Barbara Gross. 

Ideas for your club
Are you initiating a program in a school or community location? Take some tips from the Weston Kiwanis Club: 

  • Be eventful! After the vending machine arrived, Rinas conducted an unveiling. She and fellow educator Paige Noonandevised a covering for the machine that would fall away when a ribbon was cut. 
  • Remind people who did it. As the machine was unveiled, attendees saw it wrapped in Kiwanis and PTO logos.  
  • Make people a part of the moment. Adriana Ilicheva, a student who had read 209 books, cut the gold ribbon and unveiled the machine. The event was also broadcast live to all classrooms. Other guests included members of the Weston club and the WIS PTO. 
  • Give a sense of ownership. The machine will have a name, and because of a school-wide naming contest, it will mean something to the students. 

Working with others to do more good

Working with others to do more good

Kiwanis clubs around the world joined other service organizations to help even more communities. 

Community service took center stage September 11-17 for the third annual Celebrate Community, a weeklong joint initiative from Kiwanis International, Lions Clubs International, Optimist International and Rotary International. 

Why collaborate with other service organizations? To help even more communities and kids! Plus, members of participating service organizations had the chance to learn more about one another — and see how teamwork, not competition, makes our world better.  

Kiwanis clubs around the world highlighted their projects on social media using the hashtag #CelebrateCommunity. Here are just a few: 

  • The Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville, North Carolina, U.S., collaborated with two Rotary clubs and a Lions club to collect and deliver 3,760 diapers and 136 packs of baby wipes to the Children & Family Resource Center. Aktion Club was involved too. “Children & Family Resource Center is so thankful to be the recipient of such generosity in our community,” says Jamie Wiener, the center’s executive director. “We provide roughly 400 children each month with diapers and formula so moms and dads don’t have to choose between food, utilities and other expenses over the health and safety of their baby.” 
  • Kiwanians in India, a provisional Kiwanis district, joined forces with Lions Clubs International by painting smiles on the faces of children through the distribution of stationery and vibrant painting colors, all in the spirit of spreading boundless joy.  
  • In Evanston, Illinois, U.S., service clubs collaborated to perform a range of community service activities, culminating in a cleanup at the International Friendship Garden. “The International Friendship Garden is a symbol of community unity, and we are eager to make it shine,” says Evanston Rotary Club President Shawn Iles.  
  • The Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman co-organized a beach walk with Lions, Optimist and Rotary club members, raising more than $1,000 for the Cayman Islands Community Food Bank.   
  • Club Kiwanis Playas in Panama teamed up with a Lions Club to donate food to students at the El Farallón School. “El Farallón is a fishermen community. These kids mostly belong to families whose economy depend on the catch of the day,” says club President Lanny Lowe. “Food insecurity and malnutrition are issues that the school helps solve, and Club Kiwanis Playas looks forward to the school having enough food supply to feed the kids.” 
  • The Kiwanis Club of Lebanon, Indiana, U.S. co-hosted an intergenerational ice cream social for more than 120 senior living community residents, family members and Lebanon High School students. “It was a great night for all involved,” says Amy Hammerle, Lebanon Kiwanis Club president. “Coming together with the Lebanon Lion and Rotary clubs to serve these special seniors was rewarding and so much fun.”  
  • Kiwanis and Circle K International members in Ontario, Canada, collaborated with Rotary Club members to fill backpacks with school supplies for kids in need. “I enjoyed working alongside people I knew who genuinely wanted to help their community,” says University of Windsor CKI member Abdullah Nadeem. “The energy was amazing. I remember how everyone was smiling and trying to match the notebooks with the color of the backpacks, and it was these small gestures that made me realize how much this project meant to the volunteers and how they knew they were making a difference.”

“We are thankful for this wonderful opportunity to have worked with other service clubs to create stronger communities around the world as part of Celebrate Community,” says 2022-23 Kiwanis International President Bert West.

Did you participate in Celebrate Community this year? Don’t forget to submit your joint project for possible inclusion in upcoming Kiwanis communications. 


Grants fund many ways to read 

Grants fund many ways to read 

Thanks to Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grants, more kids around the world are reading and learning. 

By Erin Chandler 

Kiwanis clubs around the world are turning kids into lifelong learners — and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund is there to help. In August, the Children’s Fund awarded grants to eight clubs that brought books into children’s homes and classrooms, overcame language barriers, bridged learning gaps with online apps and combated the stigmas surrounding learning disabilities. And they recruited lots of new Kiwanians along the way! 

Textbooks and other tools for learning
The Kiwanis Club of Yaoundé, Cameroon, noticed that some children in low-income areas were going to school without the necessary textbooks, while others were not attending school at all. In 2019, the club launched a project in conjunction with area partners to provide textbooks and notebooks to 100 kindergarten and primary school students. The children they helped saw dramatic progress in their academic achievement. With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant, the club hopes to meet this year’s expanded goal of delivering textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils and other school supplies to 250 children.  

The reward of reading
With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grant, the Kiwanis Club of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., plans to install book vending machines in area elementary and middle schools that are part of the Title I program. The club estimates that over 5,000 students will be able to select books from the machines as rewards for good deeds, good grades and good citizenship. Club members will also work directly with the students. The machines will be continuously stocked with books purchased through club and school fundraisers.

A little holiday reading
Before the month of December, 60 children in kindergarten through second grade will each be given a basket of 25 giftwrapped books by the Kiwanis Club of Jefferson, Georgia, U.S. It’s all part of the club’s Literary Launch program. One book can be opened each day of December leading up to Christmas, with the addition of a toy to open on the last day. Book basket recipients are selected by local schools based on family income, so that children who might not have many books at home will be able to build their own home libraries. With help from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, the club hopes to purchase all new books this year. 

A community culture of reading
The community of Ormond Beach, Florida, U.S., knows the Kiwanis Club of Ormond Beach as “the organization that gets books into kids’ hands.” Through their Kiwanis READS! Backers-4-Books program, the club supplies books to Ormond Beach Elementary School’s media center and classrooms. They also organize an annual sponsored book fair that lets children take home four books for free. In partnership with Volusia County Library, the club hosts a summer reading challenge and read-a-thon, and at the beginning of the school year, they honor top readers with an ice cream party. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help the club expand its efforts across the five Ormond Beach elementary schools. 

Literacy across languages
Three years ago, the Kiwanis Club of Plano, Texas, U.S., launched Books and Buddies, a project to provide bilingual books in English and Spanish for early readers who come from Spanish-speaking families. The project has received positive feedback from both parents and teachers. This year, a Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant will help the club print 1,500 copies of a brightly colored bilingual booklet containing a story and information about dialing 911 in an emergency. The booklets will be distributed at after-school events and to Boys and Girls Clubs, waiting rooms, Head Start programs and more. 

Apps for accessibility
Last year, the Kiwanis Club of Papine in Kingston, Jamaica, helped 130 students at the Jamaica House Basic School and Danny Williams School for the Deaf improve their literacy skills. The club served the students through a combination of the Lalilo online early childhood literacy tool, donated books, access to virtual libraries, tuition support and a reading competition. However, they had to limit the scope of the project to schools that had access to the necessary electronic devices. A Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant will help them bring students and schools with greater financial need on board with the purchase of more tablets and more accessible devices for deaf students. The Reading For the Stars program saw great success in its first year, with 80% of parents reporting improvements in their children’s reading. The club plans to continue its effectiveness based on regular community needs assessments. 

Literacy through technology
The Kiwanis Club of Imperial Beach-South Bay, California, U.S., is also turning to technology. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help the club purchase more subscriptions to the Readability Tutor online app — as well as tablets so more students can access it. The club will also partner with the local library for literacy events, where they will give out free books. In an area where the primary language in many homes is Spanish — and fewer than 30% of students currently meet English Language Arts curriculum standards — the club hopes to help 100 children in kindergarten through sixth grade to meaningfully enhance their English reading skills and scores through its 2023-24 Literacy Program. 

Raising awareness, fighting stigmas
The Kiwanis Club of Montego Freeport, Jamaica, is helping to end the stigma surrounding learning disabilities. Through its Learning Disabilities Awareness Program, the club partnered last year with Sam Sharpe Diagnostic and Early Intervention Centre to assess 45 students for issues such as ADHD, dyslexia and others. Those in whom learning disabilities were identified have seen improved verbal skills and academic performance, thanks to academic intervention and treatment. In addition, teachers have been trained to recognize signs of learning disabilities. Sam Sharpe is currently the only public facility in western Jamaica that diagnoses learning disabilities, with over 100 students on a waitlist, so the Montego Freeport Kiwanians decided to expand their assessment program this year. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help them assess 100 children and establish a support group for parents. 

How you can help
The Kiwanis Children’s Fund makes grants that improve the lives of children around the world by identifying the projects that create a continuum of impact in a child’s life — one that spans their entire childhood and sets them up for a bright future. By funding projects that target the Kiwanis causes—health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development— whether through a Kiwanis Club’s local service project or through a club’s partner, the Children’s Fund ensures that its grantmaking has the greatest possible impact.   

If you are interested in extending your and your club’s impact beyond your community, make a gift to the Children’s Fundor learn how your club canapply for a grantto help kids in your community. 

Generations of service

Generations of service

In Louisiana, U.S., one family has been represented in Kiwanis for more than 8 decades

By Julie Saetre 

Hunter Wellan’s induction into the Kiwanis Club of Alexandria, Louisiana, U.S., in August 2023 marked a milestone: He represents the Wellan family’s fourth generation of Kiwanis membership. 

Louis Wellan, Hunter’s great-grandfather, was a charter member when the club was founded in March 1937. An esteemed member of the Alexandria community, Louis founded and owned Wellan’s Department Store, at the time the largest department store in central Louisiana.  

His success in business was matched by his commitment to philanthropy. When Louis learned that the Louisiana College basketball team had no way of traveling to away games, for example, he purchased a bus and had it delivered to the school.  

He also was instrumental in funding the club’s Camp Kiwanis, a 150-acre plot of greenspace complete with a 22-acre lake. The camp provided a two-week summer getaway for underserved children for several decades. Today, the venue still hosts numerous youth groups — including Terrific Kids — and the Alexandria Kiwanis Club holds its annual crawfish boil/raffle fundraiser and a children’s fishing day on the property. 

“Louis was one of the quiet donors,” says David Curry, a current member of the Kiwanis Club of Alexandria.  

In fact, Louis contributed to many civic and religious organizations — and his generosity did not go unappreciated. Most of Alexandria’s stores and businesses, along with City Hall, closed on the day of his funeral in 1956.  

“Town Talk,” the local Alexandria paper, reported that the crowds “may have been the largest number ever to attend a funeral here.”  

A family tradition begins
For the Wellan family, a tradition of Kiwanis service had just begun. On the day of Hunter Wellan’s Kiwanis club induction, his grandfather, Myron, was presented with the Legion of Honor for his 65 years of service in the club. He joined the club in 1958 and went on to serve as a board member in 1961-62, 1981-82 and 1985-86.  

Myron showed his commitment to service even before joining the Alexandria Kiwanis Club. As a teen, he was a member of the Bolton High School Key Club in Louisiana. 

“I joined Kiwanis after LSU [Louisiana State University] and military service,” he says. “Joined the family management of Wellan’s Department Store and enjoyed years of active membership in the Alexandria Kiwanis Club.” 

Myron’s son, named Louis after his grandfather, joined the Alexandria club in 1985. He served as a board member in 1994-95 and 1995-96 and as club secretary in 1996-97. He recalls especially enjoying attending the board night/club social with his dad. Louis has been an attorney practicing general law for over 30 years. 

The next generation
Now Hunter is continuing the Kiwanis tradition. All together, in fact, the four Wellans represent 121 years of Kiwanis service. 

Myron Wellan has no doubt the family history will remain strong in Hunter’s hands. 

“He will be an asset — Louis will see to that,” Myron says. “It’s unfortunate that my father didn’t live to see Louis and Hunter grow up to be such fine men and Kiwanians.”