New grant supports children’s healthcare

Erin Chandler | Aug 16, 2022

Brightly colored mats, balls and toys for children to use in therapy sit on blue carpet.

A cup that will help a child learn how to drink. A swing to help them play. A compression vest to help them relax. An iPad to help them communicate.

After hearing what children at the Blount Memorial Hospital’s pediatric rehabilitation need, but that one in five families could not afford, Bob Lambert and Bruce Damrow of the Kiwanis Club of Alcoa, Tennessee, say their club responded like “typical Kiwanians”—they asked how they could help.

The answer came through a Pediatric Medicine Support Grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. Made possible by the generosity of the Kiwanis governors’ classes of 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Pediatric Medicine Support Grant is a new, one-time 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.  

This year, a total of US$12,000 was awarded to the Kiwanis Clubs of Alcoa and Chattanooga, both in Tennessee, United States. Kiwanis club members in Chattanooga will revamp the neonatal intensive care unit’s breastfeeding room at the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. The Kiwanis Club of Alcoa will purchase equipment that will help kids undergoing occupational, physical and speech therapy at Blount Memorial Hospital.  Both clubs were invited to apply for the grant after they mentioned their interest in working with pediatric medical services in their monthly club reports. The application process then began in earnest when club members reached out to contacts at local hospitals to learn about what they needed most.

Pediatric blog 2 “We’re going to ask where it hurts,” Damrow explains. “We don’t want to just throw money out there. We want to do the right thing for the right people at the right time.”  

Once the projects were decided, the two hospitals provided information and insight to help club members put their grant applications together. Both clubs found the application to be clear and straightforward, asking for a description of the project, why it was needed, what their club had done so far and what their timeline and budget expectations were.  

The Kiwanis Club of Alcoa expects that its project will positively impact thousands of children working on their developmental, motor and communication skills at Blount Memorial Hospital’s pediatric rehabilitation facility. The club’s grant application explains how the specialized tools they provide will help kids be “more successful in school and more independent in life” — and, Lambert adds, simply “help a child feel more childlike.”

The club has a history of giving specialized tricycles and other adaptive devices to children with disabilities, and Lambert is familiar with the “hair-raising moment” of seeing these children “joining us, not [being] pushed off to the corner.” Lambert and Damrow hope that the Blount Memorial rehabilitation center and others like it will be able to help people with disabilities become more active participants in their communities.  

Doug Hightshue and Pete Palmer (300 × 250 px) Doug Hightshue and Pete Palmer of the Kiwanis Club of Chattanooga say they are most looking forward to getting back out into the community to complete a service project with their fellow club members.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to many clubs to come together for events and service in the way they are used to, but Chattanooga club members will finally reunite to paint and refurbish the Children's Hospital at Erlanger’s lactation room. Their grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will go toward furniture and paint, as well as nursing supplies for new parents who can’t afford them.  

Hospital staff explained to club members that simple changes can make a huge difference in patients’ experience. For example, adding more comfortable seating options and partitions for increased privacy will increase new parents' comfort, willingness to use the lactation room and ability to nurse successfully. The club expects that their improvements to the lactation room and its services will make a positive difference in the health of 360 infants. 

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund makes grants that improve the lives of children around the world. We do this 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 of 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. 

Each club will have one year to spend its Pediatric Medicine Support Grant and administer its project before submitting a report to the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. Damrow, however, anticipates that the partnership between his club and Blount Memorial Hospital is just beginning. The Kiwanis Club of Alcoa, along with their Key Club and Circle K International Club, will continue to volunteer at the pediatric rehabilitation center. “When you get us for a client,” he says, “we’re with you for the long term.”  

Lambert and Damrow say they would encourage any club to take advantage of the Pediatric Medicine Support Grant as an opportunity to help children with medical needs in their community, citing the ease of the application process and the substantial gratification that comes from helping others. “We’re career military, and we’re supposed to have ice in our veins, but this puts a tear in our eyes,” Damrow says. “We talk about the Kiwanis ‘ah-ha’ moment. This is one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments.”  

If your club is interested in applying for a Pediatric Medicine Support Grant, be sure to indicate that in your January club report. In March, you will then receive an invitation to apply online from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.  

For more information on grants from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, visit  


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