Kathryn. L Kurka
Kathryn L. Kurka (Kay), founder of the Kathryn L. Kurka Children’s Health Fund, wanted to be a nurse since playing a Red Cross Nurse in a 4th grade play. She graduated from the Los Angeles Good Samaritan Hospital & Bishop Johnson College in 1941. In 1942, she joined the United States Army Nurse Corps.
During World War II, she served as a Nurse Anesthetist assigned to the 73rd Evacuation Hospital in the jungles of Burma, where she lived in unheated, leaky tents with dirt floors, surrounded by snakes, rats, animals and insects. It was difficult living enduring the monsoon conditions with no fresh vegetables or running water. Bathing was a challenge.
In 1945, Kay returned to Los Angeles and began her career with the Los Angeles Unified School District as a School Nurse and later as a Supervisor and the Director of School Nursing. Kay said, “I realized that my Army experience prepared me for caring for children, especially deprived children. I know what it is like to be cold, hungry and miserable.” After visiting the homes of so many children with health defects, whose parents were unable to afford healthcare, Kay established the Children’s Health Fund, which upon her retirement was named the Kathryn L. Kurka Children’s Health Fund. Since 1956, because of Kay’s diligence and compassion, thousands of children in Los Angeles received medical, vision and dental care.
Kay retired in 1985 and served as the honorary Director of the Fund until her death in 2013. By 1987, through the diligence of the volunteer Board, the Kathryn L. Kurka Children’s Health Fund became a recognized 501(c) 3 Charitable Organization. Today, the fund has been in operation for 65 years, still touching the lives of thousands of underprivileged school children and services remains free with no strings attached.
The Kathryn L. Kurka Children’s Health Fund is administered by a Board of Directors comprised of volunteer Retired School Nurses and other volunteer LAUSD Retired School Personnel, volunteer Community Members and volunteer School Nursing and Medical Personnel. Funds are used for vision, dental and medical services exclusively to LAUSD Students, LAUSD Clinics and other Service Providers. KCHF partners with the Essilor Foundation and LAUSD Vision Clinics to provide free examinations and glasses to students in need. KCHF assist with funding for equipment and medical supplies for LAUSD Health Care Providers and Clinics. Additional funds are available for education and professional development for school nurses, school physicians, audiometric and other service personnel.
The Kurka Children’s Health Fund participates in fund raising activities and receives donations and revenues from the following:
- The LAUSD Sharing Brings Hope Consolidated Charitable Campaign
- Private donors
- Trusts and Wills
- Memorial Donations
The Funds are utilized each year to provide:
- Vision, dental, and medical services for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. (Annually, over 2000 students receive assistance)
- Grants toward fees for professional workshops, scholarships, honorariums, awards and other health related projects.
- For the purchase and administration of vaccines as needed by LA Unified School
District Nurses and Doctors.
- Funds for District Nursing Services to provide substitute school nurses to perform additional health, vision screenings and dental screenings.