As I write this, we are a week away from our trip to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the 2016 Kiwanis International Convention. Once again, Kiwanis Family House will staff an exhibit booth in the convention’s great hall. This year, we are most excited that convention staff has produced a brief video segment promoting Kiwanis Family House which will be shown to the international audience at one or more of the general sessions. This will be unprecedented recognition for us.
This rare opportunity to enjoy a high convention profile comes on the heels of a recent three-day visit by the managing editor of the Kiwanis International Magazine. As a result, later this year, Kiwanis Family House – and three wonderful guest families – may be prominently featured in a premier publication that reaches Kiwanis members in 80 countries. This too will be unprecedented coverage. The international reach of our great story will mirror the international reach of our services, as we have hosted families from more than 30 countries around the globe.
Former guests have described Kiwanis Family House in many ways as they have endured serious illness or injury: home away from home; a rock; a lighthouse; a miracle; a place of peace, caring, refuge, and respite. I recently received an email from an Oregonian whose granddaughter had been hospitalized for acute seizures. About our services, he wrote, “The whole experience there was an oasis in a desert of confusion. We felt safe and well cared for and welcome to stay as long as we needed.”
There are many ways to portray the Family House as a safe haven. “Oasis in a desert of confusion” is my latest favorite. It sounds much like this excerpt from a poem written by Pamela Rae.
For I know now
no matter how deep
the pool becomes
from these cascading tears–
I will always have sanctuary
and huge relief
from my fears
as you have
so beautifully engineered
my safe haven
and most cherished refuge
from all my many woes
and where I can always connect
with so many other hearts and souls
Doesn’t that sound like Kiwanis Family House? Currently, more than 100 Kiwanis clubs in three states financially support this safe haven that has been so beautifully engineered. Within our walls, many hearts and souls have connected with each other in search of refuge from many woes.
Our external environment is dramatically changing and impacting our revenue streams. For example, membership trends across the Kiwanis organization have not been positive. If innovative membership strategies currently being implemented are effective in turning the tide, we should be fine. If they are not, financial support that now comes from Sponsor Clubs and individuals is at risk. On another front, our partner hospitals are referring an increasing proportion of low-income families who are unable to contribute any amount toward the cost of their stay here. We care for them anyway.
At the recent 2016 Annual Meeting of Kiwanis Family House, we highlighted our marketing and fundraising achievements and challenges. We recognize that if we are to continue serving the families of the world well into the future, the following are imperative:
- We must secure an extension to our existing operating agreement with UC Davis Medical Center. The current agreement ensures we will operate through 2034. We should know by the end of this calendar year whether our request to extend the agreement another 30 years will come to pass.
- Once we secure an extension to the term of the agreement, we must effectively introduce and implement our legacy giving program. Preliminary development work has been completed and program roll-out is pending.
- We must add to our family of Sponsor Clubs. We are so thrilled to have more than 100 clubs providing financial support to us. However, if we are to ensure a sustainable future, that number needs to grow significantly and from beyond California-Nevada-Hawaii. Further, it will be critical for our Sponsor Clubs to renew their commitment to fundraising on our behalf.
- We must add to our family of individual donors. I ask every person who values our oasis to enroll via our website and become a monthly Friend of Kiwanis Family House.
- Finally, we must land one or more corporate sponsors. To date, we have not done so.
Yes, we are an oasis in a desert of confusion. We hope that the visibility we will enjoy in 2016 will serve as a springboard to a long and sustainable future for this haven, one of Kiwanis International’s signature projects.