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Wednesday, June 19 News

Kent Nursing Association merges with community fund

The 75-year-old nonprofit Kent Nursing Association recently merged with the Kent Community Fund.

A community-wide reception to celebrate the merger of the Kent Nursing Association and Kent Community Fund is set for Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Church hall at the intersection of routes 7 and 341 in Kent.

“With this merger, Kent’s residents will be even better served for their health care needs, as well as all other aspects of quality of life,” said KNA Board President Ruth Epstein. “This is a win-win situation for all of us.”

The work of both organizations will continue under the KCF umbrella with an expanded mission to “assist and improve the community’s health and welfare through the utilization of its resources and … identify and financially support families living in Kent to help them meet their health care needs and financial emergencies,” its mission states.

The KNA was incorporated in 1943, during World War II, by six women leaders in Kent — Dr. Josephine Evarts, Miriam Butterworth, Dorothy Gawel, Nina Page, Doris Woodin and Elizabeth Woodward.

Evarts was a tireless Kent physician whose early and determined leadership spurred on the group’s organization.

In the KNA’s early years, the Kent Grange donated a car for the use of a public health nurse employed by the organization.

The nurse, always a Kent resident, made house calls and provided nursing services to children at Kent Center School.

In 1966, Mary Ellen Nelson, the nurse at the time, made 1,396 house calls and treated 400 children at KCS.

With the advent of Medicare and more complicated billing requirements, in the early 1970s the KNA no longer employed a nurse to serve Kent.

Instead, it used its funds to secure needed home health care and wellness care for Kent residents who did not have adequate insurance or financial resources through reimbursements to staffed visiting nurse associations in nearby towns.

“KNA’s mission in recent years was to support local visiting nurse agencies so that Kent patients could receive skilled nursing visits regardless of income or insurance,” said Patricia Lawrence, long-time KNA board president.

“KNA also supported flu and blood pressure clinics and many educational presentations by VNA staff members,” she said. “Rest assured that focus will continue under the KCF banner.”

“The KNA board thanks the town of Kent and its residents for supporting the organization over the last 75 years,” she said.

The Kent Community Fund was established in 2006 “to help individuals living in Kent meet emergency needs and to support community charitable programs serving Kent residents.”

The founding board members were Catherine Bachrach, Tony DiPentima, George Jacobsen, Jim Palmer, Lorry Schiesel, Judy Sheridan and Joe Speranzo.

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The all-volunteer organization, which receives no government funding, works closely with Kent’s social services director, Leah Pullaro, and representatives of other service agencies to provide assistance to residents in need, including payment of fuel and utility bills, medical and dental care, home and auto repairs and other emergencies.

The fund also supports the Kent Food Bank and provides scholarships for the Kent Park and Recreation’s summer camp and after-school program at Kent Center School. Through the generosity of local donors, more than $270,000 has been provided since 2006, helping more than 230 Kent residents each year.

KNA board members Patricia Lawrence and Hal Kamm have joined Catherine Bachrach, Jim Blackketter, Ruth Epstein, Ruth Greenberg, Ted Hoffman, Lorry Schiesel and Joe Speranzo on the KCF board of directors.