St. Charles Kiwanis serves the community
Kiwanis has come a long way from the men-only, business networking club founded in Detroit in 1915. Since the early 20th century, the club has spread around the world with a focus now squarely on community service. In 1987, the club opened its membership to women.
The St. Charles Kiwanis Club is one of more than 7,000 Kiwanis clubs worldwide and, like the others, has its own history, membership and dynamic. The current club was formed in 1964 after an earlier club disbanded during World War II.
Club members generally meet every Tuesday at noon at the Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown St. Charles, though the club meetings are temporarily suspended.
Members enjoy lunch, fellowship, programs of interest, and the opportunity to award monthly grants to organizations that help the community. Though the in-person meetings are suspended, the club is still continuing to send monetary grants to local organizations that support the club's mission. In April, the grant went to Fox Valley Hands of Hope, and in May, the grant award went to the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association.
Members also gather outside of regular meetings by attending the monthly "Kiwanis @ Nite" at local establishments, and a Club Satellite meets monthly on Saturday mornings for those unable to attend the weekly Tuesday meetings.
The club's 70 members firmly believe in the mission of Kiwanis: serving the children of the world. This year, grants will be awarded to over 20 local organizations that help area children and families, such as Community Crisis Center, TriCity Family Services, Young Life Kane County, and Lazarus House. The recent cancellation, due to the pandemic, of two of the club's three major fundraisers -- Rose Day and the Heart of the Fox Festival -- will no doubt affect upcoming grants, but Kiwanians remain very optimistic about their Peanut Days fundraiser in September.
Service projects are also an integral part of Kiwanis. Three of their major hands-on volunteer efforts are the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, and the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association's "Day in the Park."
The St. Charles Kiwanis Signature Project began several years ago as an ongoing, more permanent support for the community. Its goal is to install ADA-accessible swings in every applicable park in St. Charles as well as a wheelchair-accessible swing in Pottawatomie Park.
To coordinate these efforts requires an efficient and well-organized leadership structure. The club's officers and board of directors meet monthly to discuss club direction, growth, and ideas for the future. Within the club, there are over 30 committees to address community service, fundraising, programs, membership, youth sponsorship and much more.
"Unlike many volunteer groups, the majority of the Kiwanis club's members are fully engaged participating in service programs and seeing projects through to completion," says Bob Brautigam. "As club president, my job is made far easier by their consistent commitment to our mission. As we all navigate this life-altering pandemic, we are focused, in innovative ways, adapting and making changes to achieve our goals."
Helping today's children will make tomorrow's world a better place. The St. Charles Kiwanis Club actively seeks members who are committed to the community and have a call to service. For more information, visit kiwanisofstcharles.org or www.facebook.com/StCharlesKiwanis/.