At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Palm Springs Kiwanis Club (KCOPS) realized that the need to stay connected was more important than ever. As a result, the organization switched its meetings to an online platform and continued to share and inspire each other while engaging virtually with members and friends of the community.
On Saturday May 22, KCOPS hosted its first fundraiser of the year at Pinot palette at Rancho Mirage. The Paint & Sip event was the first time members could come together since the order to stay home in March of last year. Guests mingled, danced, painted and shared a few laughs at their varying levels of artistry.
Joining the event was Daniel Martinez, President of the Kiwanis Club of Palm Springs. In 2018, after serving 24 years as the Town Clerk of Oxnard, Martinez moved to the Coachella Valley and continued to offer his services to the community. A 26-year-old veteran, Martinez has been a Kiwanian for two decades. “It’s great to see the youth in the community grow up to be productive, kind, motivated and compassionate adults,” he said, adding that his favorite memories are volunteering with high school students at events. community-based nonprofits like the Tour of Palm Springs and the Salvation Army Bell Ringing Project.
Martinez also appreciates the ability to serve our local communities and have fun with special events, such as the Paint & Sip, which has benefited from the Kiwanis Club of Palm Springs scholarship program and community grants. “To be a Kiwanian is to be part of a family that believes in making the world a better place, one child, one family at a time,” he said. “This is why even throughout the pandemic, we have remained active and committed to serving and helping our communities. “
One such event occurred in December 2020 when the KCOPS presented a community grant to Ezekiel’s gift of love, a local organization that provides support, education and brings hope to people with Down syndrome and their families.
Despite these difficult times, Ezekiel’s Gift of Love has continued to provide support to families by offering programs and resources that can help with food, shelter, activities, and education. From helping members with Chromebooks that allow them to attend virtual training sessions or helping cover burial costs, this organization has continued to support and make a difference in the lives of many families.
Despite the sad news of the loss of four members to COVID-19, Yadira Regla-Cuevas, president of the organization and mother of Ezekiel, said: “We had five new local members who contacted us. To celebrate these new members, we delivered a Welcome Love Gift basket that contains a parent’s guide to Down syndrome, information about global organizations and local agencies, blankets and other baby items. We make these baskets to congratulate families on their new bundle of joy. During those times when we cannot organize our traditional face-to-face fundraisers, we have relied heavily on donations from the community. The support of the Kiwanis Club has helped us to be able to provide assistance to families during difficult times and also to welcome gift baskets to honor and celebrate a new life. We were also able to purchase 200 paint kits to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day for free to everyone who attended. “
At Kiwanis Paint & Sip, Martinez reflected on the heartwarming day he spoke about Regla-Cuevas and his Gift of Love family from Ezekiel: “It’s times like these that keep me active and alive. These wonderful stories encourage me to continue to share the Kiwanis mission. I look forward to more creative and innovative events with my Kiwanis family. “
To learn more about Ezekiel’s gift of love, visit ezekielsgiftoflove.com. To learn more about the Kiwanis Club of Palm Springs, visit facebook.com/kiwanisps. To support Kiwanis’ mission, visit their online auction at 32auctions.com/kcops2021.
Sandra Gramajo is Head of Development and Communications at United Cerebral Palsy of the Inland Empire. She is also a special needs sister of a brother with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Kiwanis Club of Palm Springs and other local nonprofits.