INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — 25+ Kiwanians Who Care (Indiana District), a new club concept of the youth-serving organization, Kiwanis International, chose nonprofit Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) as their inaugural Night of Giving winner. VIPS Indiana Regional Director and former VIPS mom, Meredith Howell, gave a virtual presentation to almost 50 Kiwanis members, all joining Zoom from various parts of Indiana due to the pandemic. Howell shared about the importance of the early intervention services VIPS provides for Hoosier infants and toddlers, ages birth to three, with vision loss across Indiana. Two other youth-serving organizations, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis and Montgomery County Youth Services Bureau also presented to the group of caring Kiwanians and while it was close, the Kiwanians chose to support VIPS.
Through each of the Kiwanian’s individual gifts of $100, VIPS was awarded $5,000 that will go towards the organization’s new state of the art Family Resource Center which is currently under construction by local developer, The Whitsett Group (TWG), and will be located just east of downtown Indianapolis. The VIPS Center will include a sensory room, a lending and resource library for parents, a teletherapy room, an ophthalmology office, an accessible Toddler Town, an outdoor sensory garden, and more. All components specifically designed for young children with visual impairments. Howell, who has a daughter who is legally blind and was served by VIPS, said the gift from the 25+ Kiwanians is a critical testament to the importance of the unique space VIPS is building. “Indiana will soon have a destination where Hoosier families of young children who are blind can find an accessible community filled resources, support, and most importantly–hope.”
25+ Kiwanians Who Care is the brainchild of longtime Kiwanian and former Indiana District Governor, Vanessa McClary. Because the pandemic forced Kiwanis members to adjust the way they serve communities, McClary said the Night of Giving, similar to a giving circle, brings a new way to serve during these unprecedented times “The giving circle seemed to be a great fit as we could give of our treasures and do it all virtually no matter where we lived,” said McClary. “A member could join in virtually with a new way to impact one child and one community at a time.”
McClary has already expanded the 25+ Kiwanians Who Care initiative into other regions of the United States with the most recent being the Pacific Northwest District. McClary says the best part is that the membership is open to anyone whether they are a Kiwanian or not. “You become a Kiwanis member when you join 25+ Kiwanians Who Care,” said McClary. “And you can join virtually from around the world.” McClary thinks it’s a win-win for children and communities everywhere and is thrilled that VIPS is the very first winner. “VIPS is a champion for young children with low vision, and this is a perfect fit for our Kiwanis Young Children Priority One initiative which focuses on children under the age of five.”
Howell, who helps lead the Envision the Future Capital and Operations Campaign for VIPS, says the support and awareness the Night of Giving has already brought to VIPS has been overwhelmingly positive. “We are this little nonprofit doing a mighty job and we need the help from the community to achieve this big goal,” said Howell. “We can’t thank the 25+ Kiwanians Who Care enough for believing in the futures of the kids we serve!”