The Florida Kiwanis Foundation (FloridaKiwanisFoundation.org) has launched the Wil and Rachel Blechman Fund, named after former Kiwanis International president Dr. Wil Blechman and has wife Rachel, two early childhood development visionaries.
“We can think of no better way to honor the long time work of Dr. Wil and Rachel than establishing the Wil and Rachel Blechman Fund,” said Florida Kiwanis Foundation president Jim Wylie. “Dr. Wil’s drive to emphasize early childhood has positively impacted children around the world. The Blechman legacy will be felt for generations to come.”
A Kiwanian since 1961, Dr. Wil, as he is known, became interested in early childhood issues and helped develop a program — Young Children Priority One (YCPO) — focusing on children from the prenatal period to age 5. As Kiwanis International president, 1990-91, he introduced the program to Kiwanis Clubs worldwide.
The international program led to Kiwanis’ partnership with UNICEF to virtually eliminate iodine deficiency worldwide, bringing increased use of iodized salt — and healthy brain development — in young children. Dr. Wil also has been involved in the ELIMINATE project, the drive to eliminate maternal neonatal tetanus, a deadly disease that kills nearly 34,000 babies annually.
“Among the millions of hours of community service hours Kiwanis clubs around the world do, Young Children Priority One has been one of most impactful and long lasting,” said Dr. Wil, governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis, 1977-78. “Studies have shown, time and time again, the positive benefits of focusing on children 0-5. This is when we can prevent many future problems, allowing them to have a strong start in life, which enhances their chances of success in school and in their adult years. That’s why we’re continuing Young Children Priority One in Florida through this new fund.”
The Florida Kiwanis Foundation has several levels of giving opportunity to honor the Blechmans — who provided “seed” money for the fund — and their work. Moneys raised for the Blechman fund will be awarded in the form of grants to Florida Kiwanis clubs for projects specifically focusing on children to age 5.
Dr. Wil is well known for his service around the world, as well as his wearing bowties. Everyone who donates receives an eye-catching pin featuring a bowties.
Anyone who donates $1,000 or more also receives a beautifully framed certificate featuring a different color bowtie and a matching bowtie lapel pin. Categories are Orange ($1,000), Silver ($2,500), Gold ($5,000), Ruby ($10,000) and Diamond ($25,000 or more).
For more information or to donate, visit the Florida Kiwanis Foundation website or contact FKF president Jim Wylie via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-567-1705.