Volunteer opportunities to ‘Make It a Day On’ for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

by Cathi Hahner

On Jan. 19, the nation will honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Communities will come together to remember King and the imprint he left on mankind. He was a man of faith, peace and of service.

One quote attributed to King that resonates with me is, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” This is the perfect time to do a self-examination and take inventory of your service to others.

What do you do to make your neighborhood, your community, your world a better place to be? Do you help your next door neighbor? Are you a scout leader or a little league coach? Do you tutor at the neighborhood school? Have you organized a food drive for the local food pantry? Do you have a couple hours a week to help at the local homeless shelter?

Opportunities to serve are nearby. Our youth need strong adult role models who can mentor, tutor, coach and lead. The homeless need shelter and the hungry need food. The sick need comforting. All these needs can be met by the generosity of great volunteers. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.” Be great … honor the memory of King through your volunteer service.

Local celebrations include the 30th annual KCK Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration at Jack E. Reardon Convention Center. The event will kick off with a ‘”Motorcade for Hunger” which aims to both call attention to the plight of the hungry and collect food for local pantries. Volunteers are needed to join with their vehicles as the motorcade drives a selected route through the community spreading the word about hunger. Motorcade vehicles will meet at 9 a.m. at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 4th and Richmond. The route will depart promptly at 10 a.m. and end at the convention center.

Volunteers are also welcome to organize a food drive prior to the motorcade or bring non-perishable items to the United Way office, 434 Minnesota, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday-Friday prior to the event. For more information contact Cathi at chahner@unitedway-wyco.org or Emily at eworm@unitedway-wyco.org or call 913-371-3674, Ext. 1308.

Rosedale Development Association is holding “RISE: Reading Inspirational Stories to Empower,” where community volunteers read a story about civil rights to school-age children for about 30 minutes throughout the week. For more information contact Andrea Steere at 913-677-5097 or ahnna@rosedale.org.

To celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. this year, take the MLK Day Challenge by making a commitment to serve not just on one day, but throughout the year. For information on how you can be great through service check out the website at www.unitedway-wyco.org and click on volunteer.

Cathi Hahner is director of volunteer services, United Way of Wyandotte County.

UG Commission plans to change way it distributes a half-million dollars in casino grants

The Unified Government Commission is working on a plan that would change the way it distributes $500,000 in community charitable contributions from the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

Under the proposed changes outlined at a recent UG meeting, UG commissioners would handle the grant applications directly, making decisions on them, according to UG officials. The selection committee no longer would make recommendations to the commission on the grants. A UG Commission subcommittee developed the proposed changes.

The focus of the grants, on community health programs in Wyandotte County, would stay the same, according to Joe Connor, assistant UG administrator, who described the changes at a recent meeting.

Commissioner Mike Kane was one of those who were in favor of the changes, as he noted last year that the 5th District was not receiving funds from the casino grant program.

Formerly, the maximum that could be distributed to any organization was $50,000 and the minimum grant amount was $10,000, but under the proposed change, there will be no minimum and maximum.

Each commissioner would have access to around $45,000 to distribute to nonprofits in Wyandotte County, according to the proposed plan. Previously, the selection committee selected the programs that would receive grants, and the UG Commission had the option of approving them all in total, or rejecting them all together.

Under the proposed plan, the commissioners will review applications, select recipients for about $45,000 that they will each control, and then their selections will go to the entire UG Commission for approval. The commissioners would be allowed to approve grants to agencies outside of their district, according to the plan.

The applications will still go through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, to verify whether the applicant is a legal entity in good standing with the state, and is either a nonprofit agency under the 501 (c) 3 rules or is a partner with a nonprofit, according to UG officials. Then the commissioners will review the applications.

Formerly, other local governments such as school districts were not allowed to apply for casino charitable grants, as the commission had reasoned that the schools already were receiving casino charitable grants under another program. However, under the new proposal, schools and governments will be allowed to apply for grants.

Commissioner Tarence Maddox said at the meeting that he was glad the commission has made a move in this direction. He thought the smaller groups formerly had been left out.

Smaller organizations that do not have nonprofit status could partner with larger organizations that are nonprofits in order to apply for grants, according to Commissioner Ann Murguia.

“This is going to create a lot more funding opportunity for the small grassroots organizations that make such positive impacts in their areas,” said Commissioner Murguia, who supports the change. “I think it will be really positive.”

The plan will come back before the commission for a final vote in a future meeting. The plan has the support of about seven commissioners, with Commissioner Jane Philbrook and Gayle Townsend expressing some doubts. Mayor Mark Holland also has previously expressed doubts about the changes to the funding distribution method.

Couple donates $1 million to KU Medical Center for cardiovascular research

CKeith and Laurie Tennant, of Vero Beach, Fla., have made a $1 million gift commitment to support research near and dear to their hearts. Their planned gift will benefit the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Both Keith and Laurie are former faculty members in KU’s Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences in the School of Education. Keith served as department chair from 2002 to 2005 and as professor from 2002 until his retirement in 2012. Laurie taught in the department from 2002 to 2011.

At 72, Keith is going strong, thanks to two coronary bypass surgeries — the first, a quadruple bypass at age 46, the second, a triple bypass in 2010. He and Laurie realize how fortunate they are as heart disease claimed the lives of a number of his male relatives when they were in their late 40s and early 50s.

Five years ago this month, the Tennants were preparing to leave Lawrence to go on a ski trip when they learned that a different kind of trip was in order. A cardiac catheterization showed that Keith’s coronary arteries were blocked again. Within days, they met with Dr. Jeffrey Kramer of the MidAmerica Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons at KU Medical Center. He arranged for Keith’s heart surgery to take place at The University of Kansas Hospital shortly afterward.

“We are very grateful for the excellent care Keith received at KU Med from the doctors and nurses,” Laurie said. “The MidAmerica Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons got him in very quickly, and Keith came home from the hospital four days after the surgery.

“We were so impressed with his doctors and nurses,” she said. “If Keith ever has to have another procedure, KU Med is where I want him to go.

“Our money will go toward research so that other lives can be saved, as Keith’s was. Without earlier cardiovascular research, there would have been no surgery, and he would have died at about age 46. Cardiovascular research has led to excellent medical procedures that have extended his life considerably. In our way, this is about giving back so that other lives can be saved.”

KU Medical Center Executive Vice Chancellor Doug Girod expressed appreciation for the gift commitment. “Major gifts like these are critical to support our ongoing research efforts that provide the discoveries to save lives every day,” he said. “We are very grateful for the Tennants and their passion to pay forward to the benefit of others.”

The Cardiovascular Research Institute provides an integrative framework for cardiovascular research conducted at KU Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital. The institute connects investigators from a wide spectrum of cardiovascular and translational research that brings discoveries from the bench to the bedside. In addition, the institute trains future generations of scientists and physicians.

– Story from University of Kansas