History of Kiwanis Club recounted at Thursday meeting

Published 3:56 pm Friday, September 21, 2018

Thursday afternoon Ray Chambers spoke at Kiwanis Club and reminded the members of the history behind their organization.

Chambers first asked the club “What does Kiwanis mean?” He explained other civic clubs have common symbols, but what about this particular club is different. He said they believe the word Kiwanis originated from the Native American term, “Nunc Kee-wanis” meaning, “we build.” The motto for Kiwanis Club originally was “we build,” but now is “serving the children of the world.”

The club was originally meant to be a businessman’s club or civic organization, Chambers said. It was in response to other organizations being built around the same time period. However, one individual felt like they should be doing more and bought out Kiwanis to make it more service oriented. Kiwanis is now located in more than 80 countries and thriving.

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Chambers said in the 1980’s the club made a decision to do something other organizations were not quite ready for; they began accepting females. Bainbridge’s Kiwanis Club was the second club in Georgia to induct a female.

The structure of Kiwanis is divided into a few different groups.

Kiwanis International is headquartered in Washington D.C. and has a president and Board of Trustees. Kiwanis International originally had something called the Foundation, but it is now known as the Children’s Fund, because that is what Kiwanis focuses on currently.

While they devote their time to mostly children, they were previously general interest and have decided to recreate one of their older service projects this year. They plan to bring back Miss Senior Decatur County, a pageant put on at Memorial Manor for the senior citizens.

In the early days of Kiwanis, they built the original track at BHS, put the roofs on the dugouts at the Boat Basin, and built a sidewalk in front of the Organization for the Blind, so they could cross the street, Chambers said.

Now through their dedication to children, they have clubs ranging from elementary school to high school: K kids club, Builder’s Club, Key Club and Action Club.

With approval, Kiwanis hopes to begin the BUGS program at local schools, which stands for “bringing up grades.” Kids can be designated a “bug” by their parents or teachers and receive pencils, erasers and other accessories that are BUGS related.

They also hope to have bumper stickers to provide for parents that say my child is a great student.

Kiwanis Club International has one central project it is currently focusing on. They have begun administering Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus shots. MNT is highly preventable, but usually comes into contact with the poorest of the poor who can not afford this or are in geographically difficult locations. Kiwanis plans to wipe out this issue, although they can not destroy the bacteria they can administer the shots.

Chambers reported they still have 12 countries to go, but they have almost met their goal.

This year Kiwanis’ goal is eliminate MNT and pave the way for other interventions that help isolated communities get the health care they deserve, while still serving children at the local level in various districts.