All About Kiwanis

Someone asked me in January to pitch Kiwanis to him, so here’s what I could have said in writing form: Kiwanis is a community service organization with over 550,000 members in 80 countries. If you are familiar with Circle K, which consists of 12,600 college members, or Key Club, which consists of 250,000 high school members, Kiwanis in the heart — it truly supports the world’s youth through direct service, guidance, mentorship, and quite a bit of money. One of many efforts, the Eliminate Project, has raised $110 million to purchase and distribute tetanus vaccines globally.

“Why are you writing this now?”

  • We could really use new members, especially young people, to represent the next generation. The average age of a Kiwanis member is 57 across the board, but my own club has six active members in their 20s. Considering the total active members, that is a significant percentage
  • Kiwanis is everywhere. We are in Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova…and that is just our division. We are in the Bay Area. We are in Taiwan. We are in Groveland. We even have a cameo in the last season of Mr. Robot
  • I want to convince you that the $52 annual membership fee goes to a good cause. As a former Circle K member, I did not even have to pay it for two years

A Little Personal Context

I currently live in Citrus Heights (a small town that used to legally be part of Sacramento), and I work close by. I attended UC Davis and received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, became a software engineer, work at a site that specializes in signals intelligence, enjoy banana pancakes, like corgis…blah blah blah. My personal background is not very relevant to this post, but get this:

Members of our club, alongside members of a church in Citrus Heights, personally sewed, stuffed, and slip-stitched 75 dolls for children in need. 50 went to the Roseville hospital; 25 went to the Citrus Heights Police Department. Ryan, a former member before he went on to become the police chief in another city, had the idea to distribute these dolls to children who were victims of crimes. Lieutenant Mike Wells, current Citrus Heights police officer, made that dream a reality.

Last year our current president, Katie Mae Escajeda, co-hosted a joint community service event with the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael: They brought entertainment and hundreds of gourment-quality cookies for a free cookie decorating event. Everyone was welcome to attend, and lots of parents and children took advantage of what it had to offer.

Citrus Heights Kiwanis supports multiple Key Clubs, including the ones at Mesa Verde and San Juan. We provide multiple $1000 scholarships. We package food at local food banks. We maintain connections to our Aktion Club, our police department, and numerous other community service organizations.

A Tiny Bit of Member Recognition

Our current president is not just our president — Katie is the acting social media chair for the entire division. Last year’s president, Bradley Miller, worked alongside Katie to spearhead the founding the Kiwanis Club in Fair Oaks. With the combined might of this new club and ours, division 44 will remain a powerful force to be reckoned with in the community service events to come.

Bradley has organized countless fundraising events for our club, including an olive oil drive. He and Katie have won numerous awards within and outside of the division.

Because of Bill Hooper and a few others, our club gets to play a big part in the Kiwanis Family House, which provides cheap housing to people whose loved ones are being treated by the hospital nearby.

Outside of our club, we also had the pleasure of meeting a couple of people at midyear who are leaders in their own respective Kiwanis clubs (pictured above), and I also met a Kiwanis member named Anna Wu who has accomplished so much for Kiwanis that I can’t even fit it in this post.

Funny story: I used to think Elk Grove was the closest Kiwanis club, when it is actually so far from me that it is not even in the same division. One person I met there, Kirsten Ireton, is now the head of their entire division. Bradley and I actually got the doll project from her, and there is no way we ever would have finished without her guidance.

“But what does this all mean for me?”

If you feel there is a gap in your life, or you want to give back to the community, or you just want to meet a lot of new people, please consider Kiwanis. We have name recognition, we have divisions and clubs all over the world, and we serve the combined purpose of serving the children of the world.

We have our own vibrant community, and our own brand of key players and heroes within that community.

The Big Picture

One of the leading members of my Circle K club went on to join the relatively new Young Professionals club in the Bay Area. I think that is awesome. I do not believe we have something like that in the Sacramento area, but it is part of our umbrella.

Are you wondering how Kiwanis compares to clubs like the Lions Club, and Rotary? To be completely honest, I do not have an answer for that. I originally joined Circle K simply because of the people who happened to be in the one at my school. If they had joined the college Rotary equivalent, instead, I probably would have joined that.

I guess what I mean to say is that we are on the same team, and we represent one common goal: To connect people to opportunity, and to allow them to achieve what they could not have achieved otherwise. It sounds vague, and it is, but consider some of the things Kiwanis has done:

The Eliminate Project, which in some places has been the difference between life and death. Early leadership opportunities, providing youth with not just the opportunity to fill in hours and list something on their applications, but to continue to make a lasting difference in the world ahead of them. Scholarships. A place for families to stay. Programs. Connections. Kiwanis functions on the simple idea that by providing just a little more motivation and power to the youth it serves, entire movements can take place.

But that does not mean it has to be Kiwanis. Many organizations, including Rotary and Lions, share this vision. And as long as the vision holds, the movements they inspire will continue.

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Evan SooHoo

Evan SooHoo

102 Followers

A software engineer who writes about software engineering. Shocking, I know.