What is Kiwanis?
Those of us who are members of Kiwanis are often asked just what we do and who we are. The official definition from Kiwanis International is: Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time. However, a more succinct explanation is that Kiwanis is creating tomorrow’s leaders today. The true mission of Kiwanis is to empower communities to improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children.
Today, we stand with more than 550,000 members from K-Kids to Key Club to Kiwanis, spanning many age groups in 80 countries and geographic areas. Each community has different needs, and Kiwanis empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of children, such as fighting hunger, improving literacy and offering guidance.
Local clubs look out for our communities and the international organization takes on large-scale challenges, such as fighting disease and poverty. We are generous with our time. We are creative with our ideas. We are passionate about making a difference. And we have fun along the way.
What makes Kiwanis different from other service clubs? It’s our “SLP” clubs. We are, in short, a family of servant leaders.
To reach more people and have a greater service impact on their communities, clubs sponsor a Kiwanis family club — K-Kids for elementary school children; Builders Clubs for middle school; Key Clubs in our high schools; Circle K (CKI) clubs for university students and Aktion Clubs for adults living with disabilities.
The Kiwanis Club of Aiken sponsors K-Kids at Chukker Creek and Byrd Elementary, Builders Clubs at Jackson-STEM Middle School and Leavelle McCampbell Middle School as well as KEY Clubs at Aiken High School and Silver Bluff High School. We are proud to complete the School-related Kiwanis family by sponsoring our Circle K (CKI) club at USC Aiken. The Kiwanis Club of Aiken also provides scholarships for graduating Key Club Seniors from each high school as well as a CKI student each year at USC Aiken.
While K-Kids and Builders Clubs are student run, there is greater participation with adult supervision. Key Clubs in high schools have both a faculty advisor as well as a Kiwanis member advisor. The clubs are student-led as the students develop leadership skills. Key Club has its own governance and students may serve at the Key Club District and International level as well as attending local and international conventions. The Kiwanis Club of Aiken assists students in chaperoning, transportation, and assisting with the expenses involved in attending these leadership opportunities.
In addition to all of the “SLP” clubs, the Kiwanis Club of Aiken is actively involved in supporting the KEY LEADER program. Key Leader (ages 14-17) teaches service leadership and social-emotional skills essential for students to become value-driven leaders. Based on Robert Greenleaf's "servant leadership" model, and delivered to more than 33,000 students around the world since 2005, Key Leader is an essential program to break down the isolation students face in the era of smartphones.
Many of these high school students go on to join Circle K, the college organization geared to further development of leadership and friendship in the world. This organization is self-governing, elects its own officers, conducts its own meetings and determines its own projects while blending in the opportunity to meet other college students from around the world. This program is mentored by a Kiwanis advisor who provides advice and guidance as needed.
Kiwanis also actively serves the local community in volunteer projects such as aiding the Boys and Girls Clubs, Child Advocacy Center, ACTS, and volunteerism in many other local projects.
Prior to Covid 19 the Aiken Kiwanis club started a new reading mentoring program in conjunction with Leavelle-McCampbell Middle school. This program is designed as an aid to their students to improve their reading skills. The Aiken Kiwanis club provides books for the school and mentors for the struggling students. This enriching and rewarding experience not only serves to enhance readership for the students but will also garner a rich experience for the adult participants. Many volunteers are needed for such projects and Kiwanis proudly steps to the forefront and invites all community members to help make a difference in the lives of children.
Service is at the heart of every Kiwanis club, no matter where in the world it’s located. Members stage approximately 150,000 service projects and raise nearly $100 million every year for communities, families and projects. By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone.
Here in Aiken, we have several fundraising efforts. Our major effort is the Aiken’s Bacon & Brews event, held downtown at the Newberry Street Festival Center. Unfortunately the event was canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic but it is currently scheduled for 12 March 2022. Our other fund raiser is a golf tournament usually held the first weekend in May. The funds we raise locally are used to support children here in our local communities.
Hopefully this will give you a better idea of Kiwanis and what we do here in the community. When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things can happen. When you join Kiwanis, your horizons expand with the rewards of service, fellowship and in time, through the bonds of friendship that are formed, networking happens organically.
Please feel free to join us at a Thursday meeting to find out more about the organization. Feel free to contact me at the following email address for more information.
Kiwanis Club of Aiken
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