Sparrow Club teaches kids how to help others in medical need

Felicia Kopperdahl, Staff Reporter

The local non-profit organization Sparrow Club, which is partnered with the Central Athletics department, is turning heads because they’re “helping kids help kids” in medical need.

Nancy Wilson, former president and board member, said anyone can put on a fundraiser and give the money to a family in need, but that isn’t what the Sparrow Club does.

Children 17 years and younger in medical need are referred to the Sparrow Club.

A local school and a sponsor, usually a business, adopts the Sparrow child. The school children engage in community service and earn sponsor dollars. The business, along with the school, donates money toward that child’s medical costs.

“To have a project you need a sponsor, student and school,” Wilson said.

Sam Cathcart, Sparrow Club coordinator, had an opportunity to work with the club after he graduated from Central. He started to volunteer, and Sparrow then gave him the opportunity to work for them.

“All our children are referred to us either by children’s hospitals, a local physician/doctor, a community member or even other Sparrow families,” Cathcart said. “They refer them to Sparrow or they download an application from the website. As a coordinator, it is my job to evaluate the applications, meet with the families, talk to them and explain our process. See if it is something they want to do, because a part of being a part of Sparrow is putting yourself out there a bit because we do a lot of stuff with the media.”

Jan Clark, the mother of 11-year-old Sparrow child Avory Clark, said a Sparrow Club member approached her family after learning of Avory’s story. She learned what the club was and made sure Avory understood that her story would be public if the family went along with it. The choice was left up to Avory. Avory has been a Sparrow child since August 2014.

“She was diagnosed with Samter’s Triad,” Clark said. “It causes swelling, hives and wheezing. She also has asthma, nasal polyps and allergies.”

As a result, Avory Clark is also allergic to many medications.

Jan Clark said the Sparrow Club is wonderful, and she is grateful for their help.

“It is a great organization with the concept of ‘helping kids help kids’ so that they can learn by donating hours of helping others toward matching funds donated,” Clark said. “The only con is that more people don’t know about it or what it’s all about.”

Sparrow Club has also put together the “Sparrow Singers” group.

“It’s a choir. There are about 50 of us now. It’s a multi-generational choir,” Wilson said. “It’s people from all over the community who love to sing for benefits for Sparrow or other benefit events around the community.”

Wilson enjoys spending time with the Sparrow Club.

“I’m happy to be here,” Wilson said. “You’re never too young to make a difference.”