Archive for Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy birthday, Kiwanis

April 14, 2011

If I could, I would lead a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” for the Edwardsville Kiwanis.

Of course I won’t since I cannot sing very well. And, for that matter, the entire Kiwanis club doesn’t sing that well either.

Anyway, the club is celebrating its 40th anniversary during April.

Let me be up front about this – I have been a member since 1979 when the late Mel Burnley persuaded me to get up earlier and attend a breakfast club that starts its meetings at 6:30 a.m. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a member and working on countless projects that benefit both Edwardsville and Bonner Springs. I’m in my third term as club president.

I’m a great believer in service clubs. Over my career I have been president of two Lions Clubs and an Optimist Club. I’ve also been a Rotary Club member. All the clubs are excellent and they all do outstanding projects. However, I am concerned about the future of service clubs since most of them have dwindling membership. For whatever reason, young people simply aren’t joining service clubs and a number of clubs have folded. Communities will certainly lose a vast majority of good projects, community support and contributions if there are no service clubs.

Someone recently asked about the origin of Kiwanis International. Well, it seems that Joseph C. France, who was a tailor by profession, and Allen S. Browne, who was a professional fraternity organizer, wanted to start a club in 1915 for professionals and businessmen in Detroit. Their idea was for an organization that would provide fellowship and service opportunities, as well as stressing ethical business practices. The name comes from a Native American word that is loosely translated “we build.” The present club motto is “serving the children of the world.” There are 240,000 members in 7,700 clubs in 80 nations.

The Edwardsville Kiwanis Club was sponsored and formed by the Basehor Kiwanis Club. The Edwardsville club was officially chartered April 15, 1971. Eugene Theno was president of the Basehor Kiwanis, and they had a project of founding a new club. Dan Harless of the Basehor club was in charge of the project, and he started signing up members in mid-February. He received a list of prospects from Norm Steffey, who was president of the Edwardsville State Bank. It didn’t take long for Harless, who was a superior salesman, to have 29 members signed up for the fledgling club.

Charter night was May 13, 1971, with the ceremony at the George Meyn Center.

Roger Kappel was the club’s first president. Other officers were Jewel Cochran, first vice president; George Radcliff, second vice president; Harold “Woody” Berry, secretary; and Buell Bunch, treasurer.

Of the original 29 charter members only two, Steffey and Berry, are still members. They both remain active and both have served as president and secretary. They also served as lieutenant governors of Division II of the Kansas Kiwanis District. Present member Harry Tennant also served as a lieutenant governor.

You have to be a hearty, early riser to join the club. We still meet at 6:30 a.m. every Thursday. For the past couple of years we have met at Sister’s Restaurant. For more than two decades we met at the Redwood Inn. At each program we have a speaker and a lot of fun. Our meetings are concluded around 7:30 a.m. The original idea was to get finished so members could get to work by 8 a.m.

Now most of us are retired. Even though the club has an older membership, the group carries out a tremendous number of projects.

Happy Birthday to the Edwardsville Kiwanis Club, and thanks for four decades of service to the area.

The club funds or oversees the awarding of six scholarships to Bonner Springs High School students. For a couple of decades, the club has provided bingo at the nursing homes and gathers magazines, which are distributed to the nursing homes. The Kiwanis Club has sponsored the Edwardsville Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast during the Autumnfest celebration. This Thursday we will be going to KCK to help set up the United Way Volunteer Banquet.

The club has sponsored students to attend various camps, has helped with Special Olympics and the Vaughn-Trent Christmas Basket program. A couple of years ago we started a new project of providing a dictionary to every third-grader at Edwardsville Elementary. Last year we gave a book to every Head Start student and spent a couple hours reading to the kids.

We have social events ranging from ball games to the dinner theater.

All the money the club raises goes to our benevolent projects and donations to worthy local charities. The club is dedicated to serving the two communities. Like all service clubs it is a great organization. Ian Sangster, secretary-treasurer, does a tremendous job keeping the club running smoothly.

Happy Birthday to the Edwardsville Kiwanis Club, and thanks for four decades of service to the area.


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