The Finance Committee of our Board of Directors met recently to begin drafting the annual budget that will support Kiwanis Family House operations beginning July 1. As do most nonprofit leadership teams, we experience angst about our ongoing fiscal position and thus our ability to effectively serve families in need. I believe that we are managing discretionary spending as leanly as operational demands allow. For us, any real promise for relieving that angst lies on the revenue side of the equation.
Here is some straight talk: We need to add more sponsor clubs. We also need more financial support from many of our current sponsor clubs than what we have received in recent years. Here is yet another compelling story to remind us why.
Dan Angel is a Deputy with the Butte County Sheriff’s Department and a former member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Chico. I was honored to meet Dan recently at a special guest event for his former club, an evening in which I had been invited to participate. After I briefly shared the mission and impact of Kiwanis Family House with a dozen prospective Kiwanians, Mr. Angel stood before the audience and emotionally shared his story. I had not heard it before that moment.
Thirty years ago, when Dan was an eleven-year-old kid, doctors diagnosed him with a high-risk neuroblastoma. They told his mother that the aggressive cancer would deny him his twelfth birthday. The family’s pursuit of the miracle they so desperately needed landed young Dan at UC Davis Medical Center. While Sacramento’s world-class medical professionals delivered their miracle in saving Dan over the ensuing weeks, his mother temporarily lodged at a newly-established facility on the hospital grounds called Kiwanis Family House.
Dan tearfully recounted this frightening chapter of his early life for the club’s invited guests. Not surprisingly, many of them were moved to tears as well. Little did we know that he had half of his story yet to share.
Thirteen years after surviving his own scare, Dan Angel was an expectant father anxious to welcome his new son into the world. Late in the pregnancy, Dan’s wife developed HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening obstetric complication that usually occurs during the later stages of pregnancy. “HELLP” is an abbreviation of the three main features of the syndrome: hemolysis; elevated liver enzymes; low platelet count. Dan faced the probability of losing his wife and son.
Through more tears, Dan explained to those considering Kiwanis membership that 17 years ago, Kiwanis Family House was his home away from home during medical crisis. Just as his mother did during his own cancer treatments in 1986, he found respite with Kiwanis while the medical experts at neighboring UC Davis saved the lives of his loved ones. His happy and healthy son is now 17 years old.
In concluding his comments to the group assembled on a shady Chico patio, Dan said, “I credit the Kiwanis organization and Kiwanis Family House with saving my life and my family. I am grateful to Kiwanis for my life’s opportunities.”
Every one of our established revenue sources is challenged, thus our angst. Your clubs will soon develop your budgets for the upcoming administrative year. We know very well that you have numerous competing demands for your limited resources. Whether you are ultimately able to direct additional support for Kiwanis Family House, we hope that you will recall the numerous guest stories we have shared with you as you decide which organizations and causes will be the beneficiaries of your club’s generosity.