The gift of health

California Kiwanians create medical-equipment loan program.

By Lydia Johnson

The Kiwanis Club of Rancho Murieta is an integral part of its namesake California neighborhood. Every year, 5,500 residents of this planned community enjoy a Kiwanis-sponsored Easter egg hunt, a July 4 pancake breakfast and a kids’ fishing day, among other opportunities for fun and camaraderie.

But club members also bring the community together for service. For example, there’s Kiwanis Assisting Neighbors Enterprise (KANE), a program through which residents donate gently used medical equipment that can be loaned for free to others in need.

The club started KANE in 1998, after the death of a member’s mother rendered medical items she had needed for her care unused. What better way to honor her memory, club members thought, than to share the equipment with others in need? 

At first, donated devices were stashed in the spare bedroom of a club member. But as word about KANE spread and more items came in, the club needed more space.

The Rancho Murieta homeowner’s association offered to host a storage shed inside its gated maintenance yard –– a secure spot for the inventory of walkers, crutches, commodes, wheelchairs, shower chairs, canes and other medical necessities. Club members are currently planning to seek grant opportunities to help fund an additional storage shed. 

The equipment is used by people of all ages, many of whom are recovering from surgeries or undergoing rehab. Rancho Murieta residents request items through a free Kiwanis hotline, which is monitored daily by volunteers who forward the information to club member Chet Kiel. For two years, Kiel has tracked inventory requests and made loan deliveries, even during the pandemic.

“There are few things more rewarding than delivering something a person desperately needs immediately to them,” Kiel says.

As Kiel discovered, the KANE program helps connect Rancho Murieta residents through a shared sense of service and dedication to the well-being of fellow neighbors.

“There really is a good feeling of community,” says Brownyn Anthony, the club’s immediate past president, “and I think Kiwanis helps with that.”

This story originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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