The week of January 16-22 is designated World Kiwanis Week, which celebrates an international volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and disabled adults.
In recognition of World Kiwanis Week, and the commitment of the people involved, the Gadsden County Times reached out to the Greensboro Kiwanis Club, currently the only active Kiwanis chapter in Gadsden County, in order to find out more about who they are and what they do for the community.
The Greensboro Kiwanis Club was chartered on November 17, 1948, and recently celebrated 75 years of service.
If you’ve seen the official fireworks display in Greensboro on Independence Day, the veteran’s monument in front of the town hall, or noticed crosses inscribed with the names of local veterans which are put up around town three times a year, then you’ve already experienced some of the services provided by the Greensboro Kiwanis club.
Jessica Lynn, the president of the Greensboro club, extended an invitation for the Times to attend a club meeting on Thursday, January 19, and speak with its members.
“Kiwanis means to serve,” said longtime club member Terry Kever. “So we try to serve our community.”
Fellow member Bill Willis, who Greensboro residents may recognize as president of the town’s council, is also a member.
“Kiwanis International is based out of Indianapolis,” Willis said. “We are international; there’s clubs all over the world. [The Greensboro Kiwanis] are just a very small club. We do try to do anything we can to help those in the community that may have had a burnout, or need clothes. We also try to partner with Greensboro Elementary School. We give some scholarships at the end of the year. We let Principal Stephen Pitts tell us who is deserving and who needs what.”
“We have bought glasses and eye operations,” added Kever. “Also cancer surgery. We bought somebody a [prosthetic] leg one time.”
“We’ve paid people’s rent,” continued Willis. “Just anything where somebody has a need, a genuine need. We aren’t really critical, you know. We don’t ask a lot of questions. We just try to help the best we can. We’re not judgemental about it.”
When asked if the club partners with any organizations or prominent local citizens, Willis’ reply is encouraging.
“I’m going to tell you what; if you can find a genuine need in the community, people will beat your door down trying to help you,” Willis said. “Everybody in this community helps us in their own way.”
Willis explained that the town helps the club fund the Independence Day celebration, known for its popular professional fireworks display.
“We have one lady and her husband who, for the last several years, has given us a $1,000 check just to help with the Christmas party we give for underprivileged children. People are willing to help if they see what you’re trying to do. We’ve never had any problems.”
“And it is easier to help somebody if it’s a child,” added Kever.
“That’s the main focus of Kiwanis,” said Vice-President and Secretary Susan Burdick. “To serve children. That’s what Kiwanis International was created for. Our club, with our town being so small, has adapted itself to attend to the needs of the community, and not just limited to children, because we have a limited number of children. I like to think of our club as being a vessel to help meet the needs of a particular family. We do that using our contacts and help from the rest of the community to do so. A lot of people are willing to help if they have someone to organize and create a way for them to help.”
The Greensboro Kiwanis club meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. in Gardner Hall, located at 150 East 11th Street.
If you are interested in joining or getting more information about the Greensboro club, Burdick encourages you to contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
“We would love to encourage anybody that wants to spend a little time and give back to their community to please contact us. We would like to do a whole lot more, but being a small club, it’s a limited resource space that we have. The more people we can get involved, the more we can broaden our resources and maybe help more people. You don’t even have to be a resident of Greensboro to join us,” says Burdick. “We will be glad to take anyone who is interested.”
For general information about Kiwanis International, you can find out more at the organization’s website at kiwanis.org
Stephen Klein – Gadsden County News Service