Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kiwanis among many worthy service organizations

January 21, 2015

For the past 35 years I have gotten out of bed very early every Thursday to attend the Kiwanis Club meeting. For many years the club met at 6:30 a.m. but has now moved to a more reasonable starting time of 7 a.m. I guess it has become a way of life.

Attending a weekly Kiwanis Club meeting is a “good habit” for thousands of men and women worldwide who are dedicated to helping their communities while combining service with fun. This is a big year for Kiwanis Clubs since on Jan. 21, Kiwanis International will celebrate its 100th anniversary of serving communities around the world. The organization has reached out to all age groups and has helped with projects ranging from world health to local service.

At present there are Kiwanis Clubs in 80 nations serving more than 600,000 members. While initially founded as a men’s club the rules were changed in the 1980’s and now there are many women who have joined the ranks.

I am a big supporter of service clubs in general. Over the years, I have been a member of all four major organizations: Lions, Optimists, Kiwanis and Rotary. They are all excellent organizations whose members give a lot of their time to improving the world. I endorse all four of the clubs and would recommend any one of them for membership.

In my case, the Kiwanis Club worked better in my schedule since I was a morning person. The late Mel Burnley invited me to join the first month I owned the newspaper, and I am still there.

Kiwanis International started as a club for businessmen in 1915. The original idea was to bring businessmen together to form friendships and to foster business alliances. It was officially started in Detroit, Mich., on Jan. 21, 1915. It wasn’t long before the club expanded to other cities and changed its emphasis to community service. The name “Kiwanis” comes from an Indian word meaning “to make oneself known.” The club motto is “we serve.” One of the early names for the organization was the “Benevolent Order of Brothers.” Fortunately the name was changed rather quickly. The fee to join the club in those days was $5.

The Kiwanis Club is not a political organization but in its earlier days it took a stance which could have been unpopular. They gave support to the controversial League of Nations. Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed and the club received a letter of appreciation from President Woodrow Wilson.

Incidentally the local organization was originally founded as the Edwardsville Kiwanis Club. Last year the name was official changed to the “Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Kiwanis Club” because the organization serves both communities.

The Edwardsville club was chartered on April 15, 1971, and was sponsored by the Basehor Kiwanis Club. Last year the Basehor club folded which is unfortunate. It points out a problem that modern-day clubs face – dwindling membership. What I enjoy about service clubs is that they provide fellowship, interesting programs and the opportunity to serve the community.

The local club sponsors a Key Club at Bonner Springs High School. The club provides young people with learning and service opportunities. It is a good way to get young people involved.

In the USA, Kiwanis Clubs sponsor 150,000 service projects and contribute six million hours of service, The local club sponsors scholarships, donates dictionaries to third graders, delivers magazines to care homes, sponsors the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast during Edwardsville Days and aids Vaughn-Trent just to name a few service projects.

Congratulations to Kiwanis International and its many clubs for 100 years of service to the world.

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