By Linwood N. Watson, Club Secretary
It has always been essential that children be prepared for the future and expected that preparedness starts at home. But the old African proverb, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child,” suggests that outside support is also vital; that an entire community must interact with children so they can experience life and grow in a safe and healthy environment.
When the “Kiwanis” was born in August 1914, the organization provided fellowship and experiences in new ideals in human relationships. During the 90th anniversary in 2005, “Serving the Children of the World” became their new motto, emphasizing Kiwanis’s primary focus of service over nine decades and making a commitment for the years to come. The Kiwanis Club’s primary objective is to provide means to form enduring friendships, render altruistic service, and build better communities. To accomplish this, Kiwanis Clubs take on humanitarian and civic projects, focusing on youth and the community’s special needs.
Here are some of the clubs established for youth: “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 only, between the ages of 18 and 32; “Key Clubs” at the high school level; and “Circle K Clubs” at the college level. The organization provides young people the opportunity to help others and become personally involved in their community and build a positive future for themselves.
All in all, KIDS NEED KIWANIS.
In Washington, DC, the Kiwanis Club of Southwest Waterfront has been helping kids since it was formally organized in July 2001. We ask advice from community leaders where our support might be needed most. We believe we can make a difference with the youth by supporting projects that replace school and civic events that have been reduced by budget cuts. Our projects not only help to keep kids engaged and entertained but offer opportunities for nurturing, to practice new skills through interactions with peers, making positive choices, learning the concept of accountability, resolving conflict, showing respect, communicating effectively, and becoming self-confident. We believe social skills help our youth succeed because it is necessary for all of us to get along with others.
We are remarkably diverse in our outreach efforts, which includes (but is not limited to) partnering with schools, churches, and other community organizations. Our support includes supplying back-to-school supplies, school uniforms, food distribution to families, funds for students to attend Key-Leadership Programs and swimming lessons, helping to send Junior Ushers to conventions, sponsoring trips to baseball games and fishing, donating Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts in the Southwest DC area. We also nurtured and supported Miss Kyan King, a cancer survivor who we called “Our Little Angel.”
Additionally, through “The Eliminate Project,” Kiwanis International and UNICEF joined forces to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. This deadly disease steals the lives of nearly 31,000 innocent babies and a significant number of women each year. We received special recognition in 2019 as a “Model Club” for donating $12,000 to this worldwide service project.
Last year (2020), the Southwest Waterfront club initiated a scholarship program. Aaron K. King, a graduate of DC’s Wilson High School, was our first recipient. He is currently pursuing a degree in Journalism at West Virginia University. Aaron’s focus is in line with the Kiwanis’ objective in that he “believes whatever he does will involve some advocacy concentrating on the underserved members of our society.”
“KIDS NEED KIWANIS” – AND KIWANIS NEEDS YOU. Being a Kiwanis member can be rewarding in many ways because we believe that the greatest gift you could ever give yourself is the gratification in knowing you are contributing your help, time, and efforts to people who are in dire need. Giving something back to your community is the highest level of self-satisfaction you can ever encounter.
Because we have struggled with membership over the years, volunteers are needed to help us meet our objectives. To find out how you can help, please email Clay Goldston at firstname.lastname@example.org or Linwood N. Watson at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.