The Kiwanis Club of Orland Park recently made a donation of nearly $8,000 to the Moraine Valley Community College Foundation to help 14 nursing students purchase supplies necessary for them to continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization wanted to focus their donation on nursing students because they saw a critical need for qualified nurses during this health crisis.

“We had allocated a specific amount of money for this purpose, which would have provided 13 scholarships,” said Ken Friker, a member of the organization.

However, when his wife, Karen, was asked to be a part of the scholarship selection process and read the 14 applications submitted, she felt compelled to ask her fellow Kiwanis members to provide $540 scholarships for all the applicants, which they agreed to do.

“Reading the applications was truly moving. The students were amazing, and we didn’t want to leave out anybody,” she said.

Najam Tara received a Kiwanis scholarship after her husband could not work as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, she had a baby girl, Zara, on the same day the governor put in the state’s stay-at-home order. Receiving the scholarship allowed her to continue in the Nursing Program despite these challenges.

“The money helped me with my nursing classes, which can be expensive,” Tara said. She expressed her gratitude to the organization for supporting her and other Moraine Valley nursing students. “We are thankful for people who are so caring that they give to people in need,” she said.

Karen Friker said helping students like Tara was why the club created the scholarships. “We wanted them to keep from giving up.” Ken Friker added, “We hope they’ll be successful, continue their education and progress in their profession. And, at some point in their lives, we hope they’ll help other students in the same position they were in when Kiwanis helped them.”

For information about the Moraine Valley Foundation, contact Kristy McGreal, executive director, at