Organizations: Kiwanis International
In many communities, the Kiwanis Club is most closely associated with its local Pancake Day fund raiser.
And while the all-you-can-eat bonanzas do tend to raise a bundle for local clubs, there’s far more to this international organization than tasty breakfast food.
Founded in 1915 in Detroit, Kiwanis started out as a business-to-business networking group and has become a community service oriented international entity with a focus on helping youth, says Georgia District Governor M.J. “Mick” Maguire. Its motto: “Serving the Children of the World”
The Georgia District, Maguire says, boasts 176 clubs and some 8,500 members. Leadership at the state level includes a governor, governor-elect and/or secretary. Lieuten-ant governors head the state’s 25 divisions, which usually encompass between three and seven counties.
Georgia Kiwanis’ primary focus, Maguire says, is service leadership programs, or programs for kids. The Young Children: Priority One program, for example, targets prenatal to school age kids.
Kiwanis volunteers run K Kids and the Builders Club, which teach service and leadership to elementary and middle school students, respectively. Members participate in activities such as honor guard, school cleanups and fund raisers for underprivileged kids.
Key Clubs and Circle K International, for high school and college students, respectively, are student run. In the Georgia District their major project is to support the Georgia Sheriff’s Association Youth Home. In 10 years of fund raising, Maguire says, students have generated $1.2 million for the home.
New to the ranks is the Aktion Club, which provides leadership opportunities for handicapped adults. There are seven such clubs in Georgia, Maguire says, adding that, “some of the most fun I’ve had as governor is with those groups.”
Internationally, Kiwanis Clubs are present in 93 countries and have been working with UNICEF since the mid-1990s to eradicate iodine deficiency. The Kiwanis International Foundation also provides disaster relief.