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Kiwanis: What is it and why should I join?
"What is Kiwanis?"
This is a question that I get all the time when I tell people that I am a part of my local Kiwanis club. It may not be as well known as Rotary, the Elks, or the Lions service organizations. However, it has meant a lot to me over the years, especially since my dad became a member.
What is Kiwanis?
Kiwanis is an international service organization that aims to build communities and make the world a better place. There are clubs in 80 countries around the world that perform 150,000 projects and raise more than $107 million each year to support their projects and communities.
Kiwanis was established in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. The name of the organization was coined from the Otchipew Native American phrase "Nunc Keewanis," which means "we trade."
There are six "Objects of Kiwanis International" that guide the efforts of Kiwanis members. The main focus of Kiwanis clubs is to change the world by serving children one child and one community at a time. They do this by sponsoring a Kiwanis family club, including:
- K-Kids for elementary school kids
- Builders Clubs for middle school students
- Key Clubs for high school students (I did this!)
- Circle K Clubs for college and university students (I did this too!)
- Aktion Clubs for people with disabilities
The family clubs perform their own service projects as well!
Kiwanis also has many organization-wide projects that its members support, such as the Eliminate Project to combat neonatal tetanus, which affects women and their babies.
Kiwanis partners with various organizations to increase their impact, including Boys & Girls Clubs of American and UNICEF. Each Kiwanis club also usually donates to local non-profit organizations and agencies that make a difference in the community and advance Kiwanis' goals.
Can you believe that women were not allowed to be a part of Kiwanis until 1987?
Why should I join Kiwanis?
Maybe you've been approached by someone about joining or learning more about Kiwanis, or maybe you're already looking for a way to serve your community.
Like I said before, I wanted to join Kiwanis because of my ties with it since I was young. Not only was my dad a member, but I was a member of Key Club and Circle K in high school and college, respectively. It was a great way to perform community service, but I also had a lot of fun with my fellow members. It's typically more enjoyable to do community service with friends. It's also a great way to learn about different types of service you can do.
The projects that we do really make a difference in the community and are recognized and even anticipated by our local community members. Read more about Music in the Glen, my club's biggest and most popular annual event.
Our meetings are very enlightening. We not only talk about what projects we'll do, but we have engaging and fun guest speakers. We also play games and do raffles at our meetings as well. I feel that I have the opportunity to improve myself as a leader by attending conferences and trainings, and also by holding leadership positions through the board or through committees with my local club.
Kiwanis isn't just about doing service - it's about the great relationships that you make with the members and others in the community! I joined my club because it's perfect for me - it's a smaller club, with about 15 active members, and we're all very close to each other. One of them is a church pastor and will actually be marrying me and my fiancé next year. We have social events and are there for each other when we have good times or bad.
How do I join?
Find a club! Once you find a club near you, get in touch with the leadership and ask to attend a meeting or event.
There are dues for joining, which range from $140-$200 a year. The dues can be a hardship for many people, but they go directly to support both the international organization and the local club. The club may also cover all or part of the costs for special Kiwanis events.
Let me know if you have any questions about Kiwanis. I am so happy to be a part of this organization and I want to help others who want to make a difference in the community too! I know that sometimes there are superficial groups and projects that make a front when it comes to helping the community, but with Kiwanis, I truly feel that I am making an impact.
- Kiwanis International - Global Volunteer Organization
Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.
- Kiwanis Magazine
- Willow Glen, San Jose - Kiwanis International
My local Kiwanis club!