Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Not-For-Profit Award, presented by Nonprofit Chamber of Service, is named for former Newman University President Tarcisia Roths, ASC, who played a major role in the growth of the university. It is awarded to a mission-driven nonprofit organization that is creating a significant impact in our community. The 2020 recipient is Vet to Vet Support Command, whose co-founders are Patty Gnefkow and Howard Hutchison. The organization is a support group for veterans, connecting them with a variety of service organizations for the advancement of veteran causes.
Previously published in the Wichita Eagle
Article by Amy Geiszler-Jones
Photo by Dana Beitey, Newman University
When Sarah Coffman saw a baby kitten dart under a car, she took action.
She retrieved the kitten, tucked it inside her shirt and got back in her parents’ car to await their return, hoping her rescue would go unnoticed until they got home. She was 9 then, and that kitten was among the many hundreds of animals who have found homes thanks to Coffman’s efforts.
In November 2013, Coffman started the Wichita Animal Action League as a state-licensed, foster-based animal rescue. Since then, WAAL has rescued more than 2,000 animals, Coffman said. Last year, the group saved 696 animals at risk of being put down, with 659 finding new homes. Potential owners can find adoptable pets on the group’s website and its Saturday adoption site at Towne West Square.
WAAL has even rescued ducks, she said.
But WAAL doesn’t just focus on rescuing and rehoming pets in the community. It also helps current owners facing difficult life situations keep their pets. WAAL works with the Wichita Family Crisis Center to provide housing for pets of domestic violence victims while the owners transition into safe situations. It also works with pet owners using InterFaith Ministries’ homeless shelter – the only Wichita shelter that accepts pets – to provide supplies, grooming and other resources, if needed.
With its Spay It Forward voucher program, WAAL has subsidized spay and neuter procedures for the pets of more than 300 owners, said Coffman.
It’s all because Coffman believes in taking action. It’s what led her to start WAAL and ensure the nonprofit’s name included the word action.
Back in 2013, Coffman, who has a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing and communications from Wichita State, was working at an advertising agency when she saw a Facebook post about the plight of an abandoned dog.
“Someone needs to do something about this,” she remembered thinking as she read the post. She realized she could be that someone.
As the executive director of WAAL, she oversees a part-time employee, 40 volunteers and about 100 fosters – the WAAL Warriors, she calls them – and coordinates the care of the animals, some of which need extensive medical care. Coffman plays an integral part in raising money for WAAL, which is funded solely by private donations.
“Much like the Boy Scout code of ‘leaving it better than you found it,’ I’m motivated by making the world a little easier to live in for the people and animals that will be here long after me,” said Coffman, who has two cats and three dogs. “I get to fulfill my childhood dream of helping animals with my skill set. It’s my way of giving back and the most rewarding thing is seeing the happily ever after” when a pet is adopted.
To be awarded to a mission driven not-for-profit organization that is creating a significant impact on our community.
February 20, 2018
Bath stools and grab bars. Support rails and transport beds. Electric wheelchairs, crutches and canes.
Used equipment distributed by the Medical Loan Closet may not be glamorous, but it makes a huge difference in the lives of recipients.
Lloyd Hanna, retired owner of a drywall company, started the nonprofit in 2012, when he was 72. Hanna heard about a similar charity in North Carolina on National Public Radio and thought “why not here?” Hanna telephoned the N.C. organization to ask if he could try something similar here and got the go-ahead.
A gold Ford F-150 served as his first office and mobile warehouse. Today, there’s a 10,000-square-feet storage warehouse at 6655 E. Harry that the organization utilizes through a generous arrangement with a supporter. Hanna made about 50 loans the first year. At last count the total is about 8,000. Wheelchair ramps and toilet seat risers are just some of the other items the Medical Closet has saved from the landfill.
Hanna is the 2018 recipient of the Sister Tarcisia Roths award for not-for-profits.
The Medical Loan Closet receives no government funding. Its primary source of what is known as “durable medical equipment” comes donations of cash and equipment from the Wichita area. Donated equipment is inspected, cleaned and repaired if needed before being added to the inventory.
Recipients are those with little income and little or no insurance. Those who can pay a fee of $5 to $25 for the loan, which is open-ended. The application is one page.
The payoff for Hanna? Hugs and many variations of “I don’t know what I would have done.” And the feeling of pride Hanna has in the volunteers who’ve joined him and “continually make the extra effort to help our clients with their needs.” The goal: “Help the underserved with respect.”
Hanna believes the Medical Loan Closet saves taxpayers money, noting that some of the donated items were initially paid for through Medicaid or Medicare. A majority of recipients return the items when they’re done, he said, and he often receives additional useable medical equipment as well.
By the way, he’s still in need of volunteers to increase the number of people Medical Loan Closet can serve (visit medicalloancloset.com for more info). He’s also happy to accept cash. The Closet’s motto: “Happiness comes from helping others…be happy.”
Hanna says his desire to help people may stem from the fact that he is a polio victim assisted by the March of Dimes. A mission trip to Guatemala raised his awareness of poverty.
The Closet has expanded to Winfield, Pratt, Garden City and Denver – thanks, Hanna said, to volunteers in those places.
With his wife, Elaine, five children and 11 grandchildren, Hanna has plenty to keep him busy. He’d like to retire from this second, unpaid job by the age of 80 – next year — but still has a couple of goals, the biggest of which is linking Medical Loan Closet online with similar organizations around the country and world. The organization has already helped missions ship items to Guatemala and El Salvador.
Yet another Medical Loan Closet initiative has been created by a volunteer who has a handicapped child. She’s created a Facebook page of families with similar needs, sending items to 12 states and two foreign countries.
“We want to grow this effort,” Hanna said.
The Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Award for Not-For-Profit, named for former Newman University President Tarcisia Roths, ASC., who played a major role in the growth of the university, is awarded to a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that is creating a significant impact in our community. Continue reading “Wichita Women’s Initiative Network – 2017 Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Award”