As a teenager and young adult, I perceived Kiwanis as an organization for the more “seasoned” members of our society, and didn’t give it another thought. I knew Kiwanis was a charitable organization but, like most young people, noble or charitable purposes were not a high priority for me in my younger years. Kiwanis never really entered my narrow field of vision. However, I grew up, and wanting to help and do more for children in my own area, I decided to learn more about Kiwanis and its mission to help children.
By coincidence I met an attorney named Liz Lafollette at a local bar association meeting in Okaloosa Island, Florida. Liz is a member of the Destin Kiwanis Club and a past president; She suggested that I attend a meeting and consider joining. The Destin club meets every other Thursday at a local church. The club is an eighteen member group of “mighty but strong” participants who are committed to helping children throughout the Destin, Florida area. I attended my first Kiwanis club meeting and found everyone to be very personable and inviting. A local building named Randy Wise spoke to the club about Building Homes for Heroes. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other people in the area with a similar interest in helping others. The meeting was low-key and casual, and I was instantly comfortable in the group. I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.
I also researched Kiwanis a bit more and discovered that the organization is much more involved in global activities than a local meeting could suggest. Kiwanis International is a very large, global organization that is committed to helping children all over the world. According to kiwanis.org, “Kiwanis and its family of clubs—nearly 600,000 members strong—annually raise more than US$100 million and dedicate more than 18 million volunteer hours to strengthen communities and serve children.” As large organization with significant manpower and resources, the group is capable of accomplishing a great deal to promote their purposes.
Kiwanis clubs in the region coordinate their activities to maximize their effect. Formal activities of the club include events such as pancake breakfasts, silent auctions and selling books of tickets to local amusement parks, such as The Track in Destin. The proceeds of these activities are then funneled to causes associated with local children. Informal activities include bi-weekly meetings, quarterly socials at a member’s house or other locations. Obviously, relationships are forged between members that transcend formal meetings or obligations of the club. I’m knew to the group but the camaraderie among members to accomplish something special was appreciated. I’m looking forward to a long partnership with Kiwanis and to helping children in Destin and northwest Florida. We have a lot to do to help the countless children in need in Destin, Niceville, Okaloosa and Walton County areas. So, if you find yourself wanting or needing to get involved in an organization that helps better the lives of children, join us!