As another Kiwanis year is ending, I reflect on how our club was busy and productive in 2015, and know 2016 will be no different.
This year was even more significant since Kiwanis International turned 100 on Jan. 21. There always has been a need for good fellowship and service, for camaraderie and the desire to support communities.
The history of Kiwanis and how it began is, in large part, the story of how fellowship and service developed within an organization.
The name “Kiwanis” was adapted from a Native American phrase, “Nunc Kee-wanis,” which reportedly means “we make ourselves known.”
The club attracted nearly 200 members in only six months. The corporate charter was returned by the State of Michigan, dated Jan. 21, 1915. This date has been the birthday of Kiwanis ever since.
The Kiwanis family includes organizations for young people, which are sponsored by clubs, and the Kiwanis International Foundation.
K-Kids, at the elementary level; Builders Clubs, at the middle school level; Aktion Clubs, for people who are living with a disability; Kiwanis Junior, for young adults in Europe between the ages of 18 and 32; Key Clubs, at the high school level; and Circle K Clubs at the college level … each provides young people the opportunity to help others, become involved in their communities, and build a positive future for themselves.
Our club supports a Key Club at Kingston High School, and hopes to help start a Builders Club at Kingston Middle School in the future. The original Kiwanis motto was “We Build,” but now our motto is “Serving Children of the World.” And that’s what we do, starting with our annual toy drive, in progress now.
Making sure that all local food banks have food to feed families in need by having food drives throughout the year, and in partnership with the Rotary Club, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and ShareNet’s Food to Grow On program, our children will not go hungry over the summer when school is out of session.
Our support of the Boys and Girls Club has allowed it to grow tenfold; our members volunteer at Wolfle Elementary School, tutoring reading and math with many positive results; and we maintain the playground at Village Green Park.
This past summer, we helped residents organize a “Sail Kingston Cove” sailing club to teach youngsters the joy of sailing. In October, our club presented its annual Halloween Carnival for our local little “goblins,” and we helped out with Special Olympics Bowling on Dec. 5.
Next up is our Santa Workshop with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and their elves (Key Club members) and plenty of hot drinks and goodies. This is a good time to have a picture taken with Santa and participate in all the local festivities, Dec. 5. Time and place are not set yet, but traditionally the Kingston Cove Yacht Club donates the space for these festivities.
Our new president, Nancy Garing, calls our club “Cool-Wanis” because we do so much for a small club. The good news is that the word must be getting out since we have inducted a number of new members. Just this month, Michael Olsen and Ralph Homan joined our club, and next month I hope to introduce them in my article.
I mentioned our high school Key Club members earlier in this article, and will soon highlight what these young people do for our community. This year they will be selling Christmas wreaths, so look out for these beautiful decorations.
Being a Kiwanis member can be rewarding in many ways. The greatest gift you could ever give yourself is the gratification of knowing you are contributing your help, time, and efforts to people in and out of your community who are in need. Raising funds to help your fellow residents (especially children), participating in fellowship, and giving something back to your community are the highest levels of self-satisfaction you can ever encounter.
If you would like to be part of this great Kiwanis organization, please contact our president, Nancy Garing, at 360-638-2780; or me, Bob Lee, at 360-509-9752. Or go to our webpage. We meet at 7 a.m. each Thursday at Westside Pizza in beautiful downtown Kingston.
Hope to see you there.
—Contact Bob Lee at GLENCARIN@aol.com.