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New Orleans Kiwanis Convention: Ceiling Tile Project

Updated on January 29, 2013
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I have lived in a suburb of New Orleans for 40 years with my husband of almost 52 years and my pigeon-toed calico cat, Lucy.

Finishing Touches

Another Artist

Project Chairman with Proud Artist

Children Loved the Project

Kiwanis International Convention

Kiwanis International held its annual convention in New Orleans this summer. Many have said it was a spectacular convention, one of the best ever. Although I may be a bit prejudiced, I believe my husband, Joe, as the chairman of the Host Committee had something to do with the success of the convention. The president of Kiwanis International said he wanted to have a service project that would be done in the convention center during the convention. This service project would be something that all Kiwanians attending the convention would have an opportunity to take part in.

Although I am not a Kiwanian, I have attended both district and international conventions, have assisted with service projects and attended many social events. I have observed my husband's club over the years and witnessed all the good they do in the community. The Kiwanis Club of Lakeside has worked closely with Children's Hospital of New Orleans since 1984, the year the World's Fair was held in New Orleans. During one visit to Children's Hospital as a volunteer, Joe noticed the ceiling tiles in certain areas of the hospital. They were painted in whimsical patterns in bright colors. There were bugs, fairies, animals, all sorts of colorful characters to catch a child's attention. That was the day the idea for the ceiling tile project began, and Joe decided, with the agreement of other local Kiwanians, that the on-site project would benefit Children's Hospital.

A large group of dedicated local Kiwanians undertook the task of drawing outlines on the tiles before the convention began so that the attendees could paint them in the exhibit hall. It was a wonderful thing to see the excitement and generosity of so many good people as they gave their time and talent. I dare say they likely had a little fun in the process!

An hour after the Exhibition Hall had opened its doors, Joe told me he walked down and looked toward the ceiling tile project. The only person there was the Kiwanian in charge of the project. His heart sank. He told me later that the Kiwanian in charge looked like the Maytag repairman!

Make a Child Smile; Paint a Ceiling Tile!

Joe told me he walked back once more two hours later, feeling a bit apprehensive. He felt a huge rush of relief as he saw that the ceiling tile project area was filled with Kiwanians painting the tiles. This continued for the rest of that day and the next day and a half until all 150 tiles were painted. The project was a huge success.

Although some of the tiles were placed in Children's Hospital of New Orleans, the majority of the tiles were placed in their satellite clinics around the greater New Orleans area, which were opened to fill an overwhelming need after Hurricane Katrina.

We did lose one tile, causing me to have a near heart attack, before the project got underway. Joe had stored some of the tiles with outlines drawn on them in our garage. I went out to put a load of clothes in the washer and heard a noise coming from the hot water heater. After some inspection, I realized it was leaking, a slow stream of water was spreading over the garage floor. As I traced the water, I saw that it ended under the ceiling tiles. I was absolutely horrified. I had one of those huge bursts of energy that come from panic and lifted the whole stack of tiles. Big sigh of relief. Only one tile, the one on the very bottom, was wet.

So what began with the president's idea for an on-site project, then Joe's idea of the ceiling tile project, progressed to our garage being used to store the tiles, then to the local Kiwanians who gave of their time and talent to draw the outlines on the tiles, then the many attendees at the convention who painted the tiles, ultimately resulted in 150 -- 149, deducting the garage mishap tile -- cheerfully decorated tiles being hung in Children's Hospital of New Orleans as well as clinics all over the greater New Orleans to distract the children momentarily from their illnesses, injuries or whatever might bring them to the hospital or clinic.

Finished Tiles


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      Jane Erickson 5 years ago

      Congratulations on such a marvelous service project! Thank you to all the Kiwanians and families who painted the tiles and helped brighten the day for our most precious resource, our children. Well done!