Kiwanis Family House

Director’s Letter – June 2015

IMG_4587Today’s question:  Are we elevating the profile of the Kiwanis Family House, where family caregivers find temporary lodging and respite as they support hospitalized loved ones?  It is premature to answer that question definitively but something positive seems to be happening to our 31-year nonprofit enterprise.

Those of us who are members of the marketing team vary the wording to repeat the essential messages of the Kiwanis Family House story.  While our representations carry impact, they admittedly only deliver so much.  This is largely because we beat the drum constantly.

But there are occasions when “they” voice similar sentiments, often in more artful and articulate ways.  Perhaps we value their endorsements so much because their rich personalities draw us in or because we highly respect the influential District and International offices they hold.  In any case, we are moved when they speak.

During his March 2015 visit to the Kiwanis Family House, International President and retired physician Dr. John Button offered several thoughtful insights.  “When one family member is ill, the whole family is ill so we have to care for the whole family.  When you are worrying about where you are going to sleep, whether you can afford it, where your next meal is coming from, that interferes with you getting better.”  Then he said this directly to a guest.  “I have no doubt that the speed of your recovery has been aided immeasurably by your experience here at the Kiwanis Family House.  No doubt.”

“Our community is global,” continued President John, “and certainly the work that is done here at the Kiwanis Family House demonstrates that in spades, because they have families from all over the world here.”

On that same occasion, California-Nevada-Hawaii (CNH) Governor Alan Guire said of the Kiwanis Family House, “This is a great example of what we can and should be doing throughout the world.  This is a great showpiece and it has been proven that it works.”

CNH Governor-Elect Cherice Gilliam added, “We need to let the world know that (the Kiwanis Family House) is here.  Members need to see what belongs to this organization and what they do here.  I would love to see them come here – if they are from Jamaica, if they are from Canada, if they are from Europe – and then go back to their clubs and say, ‘There’s a house serving international people with our name on it.’  I am so glad it is called the Kiwanis Family House and not some other name because it truly represents who we are as an organization.”

President John’s wife, Debbie Button, observed, “Some of the families who have stayed here take the Kiwanis name back to their own communities.  They remember what the Kiwanis Family House did for them and their family.  It can only help spread the great news about Kiwanis around the world.”  We clearly have friends and supporters in President John and Debbie, who by the way hail from Ridgetown, Ontario, Canada.

Within weeks of the International President’s visit, we were thrilled to receive a communication from Past International President Tom DeJulio, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fordham University, Bronx, New York.  The Fordham University Club has applied to become the first Kiwanis Family House Sponsor Club from outside California-Nevada-Hawaii!  We are so grateful for this cross-country support but we should not be more grateful than the families from Bronx, Brooklyn, Akron, Astoria, Centereach, Port Washington, College Point, Winthrop, Yonkers, West Stockholm, and Adams, all New York State residents who have collectively spent nearly 100 guest nights at our Kiwanis Family House over the past five years.

These recent developments are very important ones for us.  Let’s not forget that that the CNH Circle K District recently adopted the Kiwanis Family House as a standing District Fundraising Initiative.  Are we elevating our profile?  Are we positioned to advance our organization to “the next level” of success?  It sure feels that way, but time will have to tell us.


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