compiled by Glenn Coleman

History of Kiwanis International

Kiwanis International (/kɪˈwɑːnɪs/ ki-WAH-niss) is an international, coeducational service club founded in 1915. It is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and is found in more than 80 nations and geographic areas. Membership in Kiwanis and its family of clubs is nearly 600,000 members strong, annually raise more than $100 million, and report over 18 million volunteer hours to strengthen communities and serve children.
Kiwanis International is a volunteer-led organization headed by a Board of Trustees consisting of 19 members: 15 trustees, four elected officers, and an executive director. The trustees serve three-year terms, with five trustees elected each year. As set out in the Bylaws, nine trustees are elected from the United States and Pacific Canada Region, one trustee is elected from the Canada & Caribbean Region, two trustees are elected from the European Region, two trustees are elected from the Asia-Pacific Region, and one trustee is elected "at large" from any region other than the United States and Pacific Canada. The elected officers included (in order of progression): vice president, president-elect, president and immediate past president. These officers, along with the United States and Pacific Canada Region trustees, are elected at the annual convention of Kiwanis International. All trustees and officers are unpaid volunteers. The executive director is a full-time employee who is responsible for the organization's paid staff and serves as a non-voting member of the Board.
There are seven regions in Kiwanis: Africa; Asia-Pacific; Canada and Caribbean; Europe; Latin America; Middle East; and United States and Pacific Canada. The United States and Pacific Canada Region incorporates the 50 states of the United States as well as British Columbia and the Yukon Territory of Canada.
There are fifty-three administrative areas called districts. District boards typically consist of a governor-elect, governor, and immediate-past governor, secretary, treasurer, and several trustees or lt. governors. Districts are further divided into service areas called divisions, comprising 5 to 20 clubs and headed by a lieutenant governor. Clubs have boards consisting of a vice president (and/or president elect), president, immediate past president, secretary, treasurer, and typically about five directors. At both the district and club level, secretary/treasurer may be combined by one person and may be a volunteer or a paid employee; all other positions are unpaid.


The name “Kiwanis” was coined from the Ojibwe language expression derived from the word giiwanizi meaning to "fool around": ningiiwaniz, which is found in the Baraga Dictionary as "nin Kiwanis", meaning "I make noise; I am foolish and wanton" or "I play with noise". However, Random House Dictionary claims that it comes from one of the Algonquian languages to mean "to make oneself known" but in Ojibwe and other related Algonquian languages, this expression would be gikendami'idizo. The organization's founders translated it as "We build", which became the original motto of Kiwanis. In 2005 the organization chose a new motto, "Serving the Children of the World". Members of the club are called Kiwanians.


Defining statement:
"Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time."
A new motto was adopted in 2005: "Serving the Children of the World." The original motto was, "We Build"
The six permanent Objects of Kiwanis International were approved by Kiwanis club delegates at the 1924 Convention in Denver, Colorado.
  • To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life.
  • To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships.
  • To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business, and professional standards.
  • To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship.
  • To provide, through Kiwanis clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service, and to build better communities.
  • To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism, and goodwill.

Founding of the Organization

The organization originated in August 1914 in Detroit, Michigan from a conversation between Allen S. Browne and Joseph G. Prance. Browne's idea was to solicit business and professional men asking them if they would be interested in organizing a fraternal organization with a health benefit feature. Browne was compensated five dollars per new member that joined for his operating budget. Browne and Prance set out and recruited enough members to apply to the state for a not-for-profit status. The state approved the application on January 21, 1915 and the Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers was formed. The name was changed to Kiwanis a year later. The Kiwanis Club of Detroit is the original local club in Kiwanis. By 1927 the organization had more than 100,000 members.
Kiwanis became international with the organization of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1916. Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962, when worldwide expansion was approved. Since then, Kiwanis has spread to all inhabited continents of the globe.
The original purpose of Kiwanis was to exchange business between members and to serve the poor. The debate as to whether to focus on networking or service was resolved in 1919, when Kiwanis adopted a service-focused mission. In 1924, the Objects of Kiwanis were adopted (see above) and remain unchanged today.
Each year, clubs sponsor nearly 150,000 service projects and raise more than $107 million. As a global project in coordination with UNICEF, members and clubs contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Beginning in 2010 Kiwanis International joined with UNICEF to launch a new worldwide health initiative, The Eliminate Project, dedicated to wiping out maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), which kills more than 100,000 babies worldwide each year.
Until 1987 the organization accepted only men as members. By action of the International Convention in 1987, the rules were changed to admit women as well. Women constitute about 26% of total members. At the 2013 International Convention, Sue Petrisin was elected as the organization's first female international vice president. She will be installed as international president in 2015, the year of the organization's 100th anniversary.


Kiwanis clubs, located in 80 nations, help their communities in countless ways. Each community’s needs are different—so each Kiwanis club is different. By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things happen.
Service is at the heart of every Kiwanis club, no matter where in the world it’s located. Members stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise nearly US$100 million every year for communities, families and projects.
Kiwanis clubs focus on changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time. To do this, many clubs also sponsor a Kiwanis family club—K-Kids for primary school children; Builders Clubs for adolescents; Key Clubs for teens; CKI clubs for university students and Aktion Clubs for adults living with disabilities—to reach more people and have a greater service impact on their communities.
No two Kiwanis clubs look exactly the same. Each member’s and community’s needs are different, and each club should look different. Some clubs are very traditional, with weekly meetings and a strong sense of history. Other clubs don’t meet at all, and instead hold meetings online and only come together for service projects. Newer clubs may follow the 3-2-1 concept: 3 hours of service, 2 hours of social activity and a 1-hour meeting each month. Clubs should reflect their communities and their members and should work to meet their needs. Flexibility is key to a successful club.
Kiwanis members don’t just do service—they have fun. Members make new friends by being part of a club where they attend meetings and participate in social events. Kiwanis clubs also provide excellent networking opportunities for professionals. Members meet new people from all over their region and the world through service projects, fundraising and by attending district and Kiwanis International conventions.
Kiwanis tries to serve children and youth using two approaches. One attempts to improve the quality of life directly through activities promoting health, education, etc. The other tries to encourage leadership and service among youth. In pursuit of the latter goal, Kiwanis sponsors about 7,000 youth service clubs with nearly 320,000 youth members.
Kiwanis clubs decide for themselves what projects to do in their community, based on their own community's needs and their members' interests. Service to children is a primary focus in Kiwanis, and for many years "Young Children: Priority One" (YCPO) encouraged clubs to focus on serving the needs of children from prenatal to five years of age. Clubs are encouraged to conduct a community survey each year to determine what unmet needs exist in their community. In some cases, clubs in a geographic region (a "Division" or "District") may take on a project of shared interest, such as pediatric trauma or children's cancer.
Service may be provided directly (e.g. reading to children at the library or taking therapy dogs into seniors' facilities) or through raising funds in the community to meet a community need (such as building a playground). Common fund-raising events include pancake feeds, peanut sales, or food concessions. Areas of service may include assistance to those living in poverty, projects that benefit children and youth, and services for the sick or elderly.
As a global project in coordination with UNICEF, members and clubs contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Beginning in 2010 Kiwanis International once again joined with UNICEF to launch a new worldwide health initiative, dedicated to wiping out maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), which kills more than 50,000 babies and a significant number of women each year.
In 2007, the charitable financial arm, Kiwanis International Foundation, was awarded the top rating by an independent evaluator.

Kiwanis Family of Service Leadership Programs

Kiwanis provides leadership and service opportunities for youth through its Service Leadership Programs. Key Club, Circle K, Builders Clubs and K-Kids are part of Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs. They are sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club and receive funding and professional guidance from Kiwanis.
Builders Club:
In Australia, the Kiwanis Clubs of both Cobram-Barooga and Geelong established a Builders Club in local Schools, with the Builders Club at Christ the King Anglican College Cobram, being the only one currently (2014) still operating, in Australia.
Key Club:
Kiwanis founded and supports Key Club International. Started in Sacramento, California in 1925, Key Club is the oldest and largest service program for high school students in the world. As of 2010, Key Club has 250,000 members in 5,000 clubs in 30 nations, primarily in the United States and Canada, but with clubs also in Central and South America, Caribbean nations, Asia, and Australia. KIWIN'S (pronounced "kee-wins"), a high school program exclusive to the California-Nevada-Hawaii district, operates under the umbrella of Key Club but elects its own officers.
Circle K:
The collegiate version of Kiwanis, which maintains some autonomy from Kiwanis, is Circle K International, also known as CKI. The first official Circle K club was chartered in September, 1947 at the campus of Carthage College (then in Illinois). As of 2010, Circle K membership is 12,600 members in 500 clubs in 17 countries, making Circle K the largest collegiate service organization of its kind in the world.
K-Kids, Builders Club, Aktion Club, Kiwanis Junior:
K-Kids (elementary school) membership is 33,000 in 1,100 clubs in 8 nations.However, K-kids is only for grades 4-5 in elementary schools. Builders Club (middle school) has 42,000 members in 1,400 clubs in 12 nations. Aktion Club (for people who have disabilities) has 8,400 members in 400 clubs in 7 nations. These are all considered Kiwanis-led programs, whereas Key Club and Circle K elect their own club, district, and International officers each year to lead the organization. Kiwanis Junior is part of the European Service Leadership Program, with clubs in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, and is typically for people ages 18–35.
Before 1987 when Kiwanis invited women to join the club, women's auxiliary clubs known as Kiwaniannes also existed, made up of wives of members of the men-only Kiwanis clubs. With the changes that made it possible for women to join Kiwanis clubs, official sponsorship of the Kiwaniannes clubs ended. Some Kiwaniannes clubs merged with their affiliated Kiwanis club, while others converted into independent Kiwanis clubs.

History of the Texas-Oklahoma Kiwanis District

The first Kiwanis Club in what is now the Texas-Oklahoma District was officially completed February 10, 1917, at Dallas, Texas, with a membership of 200. The charter was presented on March 28, 1918. Records indicate Dr. J. L. Holloway was the first President, with H. L. Kelley as Secretary. It is not intended to glorify the Dallas Club (00029), but being the first club west of the Mississippi, with the exception of St. Louis, its formation was very important event in Kiwanis history, as subsequent events proved.
The second club in the District was officially completed on April 25, 1918, at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (00087), with charter membership of 200. The charter was presented by Orville Thorpe, of Dallas.  First President was Edward Howell; first Secretary was Howard T. Deupree.
The third club in the district was Tulsa, Oklahoma (00124), completed June7, 1918, with a charter membership of 150. The charter was officially presented to the club January 13, 1919, by Joe A. Garrety, of Dallas. The first President was John R. Woodward; the first Secretary was W. B. Miller.
Due to the increasing number of clubs across the country, and realizing the value of District organization be set up. In October 1918, the Dallas Club selected one of its members to serve as interim Governor of the Texas-Oklahoma District until an organization conference would be arranged. The first meeting was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and on February 10, 1919, the Texas-Oklahoma District was organized. Joe Garrety, Kiwanis Club of Dallas, Texas, who was selected for the interim organization, was elected Governor.
In his capacity as International Secretary, Sam Cummings conducted the official organization meeting. His recommendation that the clubs of the States of Texas and Oklahoma be combined to form the Texas-Oklahoma District, was confirmed at this meeting.
The first District Convention, was held on September 1-2, 1919 in Fort Worth, Texas

McKinney Kiwanis Club History

From the earliest days of Kiwanis, there was strength in numbers, and sponsoring and building new clubs both locally and beyond became the standard. The McKinney Kiwanis Club was organized in 1949, sponsored by the North Dallas Kiwanis Club…and the club building and the projects began.
Our club was chartered on November 17, 1949, and the first club president was Earl Walker (1949-1950). The club currently has one charter member [Dick Horn] and four members who have belonged to Kiwanis for more than 50 years [Dick Horn, Bud Cain and ]. Our members include 5 former Lt. Governors of our Division of the Texas/Oklahoma District [Mike Livezey, Dick Horn, C.J. Young, Norm Dotson, Sandra Williams, and Dennis Williams]. The club has received numerous awards for service to the community. We are in Division 2 of the Texas/Oklahoma District
The following list of Club Presidents will help identify some of the earliest members:


Former Presidents of the McKinney Kiwanis Club
1949 Earl Walker
1950 Earl Walker
1951 Fred McKinney
1952 Newton Burkett
1953 C. J. Young
1954 Carrol Booth
1955 A. H. Witherspoon
1956 Dennis Scott
1957 Obe McCallum
1958 Victor Threlkeld
1959 Samuel Wysong
1960 Laud Howell
1961 Eugene Hays
1962 Dick Horn
1963 Dave West
1964 Pat Clark
1965 Everett Hamm
1966 Louis Chandler
1967 Edward Veigel
1968 Norm Dotson
1969 George Smith 
1970 Fred Dickenson
1971 Gamett Morrow
1972 Jim Bradshaw
1973 Don Gunn
1974 H. L. "Bud" Cain
1975 Vern Klassen
1976 Tom Linstrum
1977 Donald Brown
1978 Leslie Bartlett
1979 Henry Myrick
1980 Fred Hackney
1981 Ronnie Thomason
1982 Ron Cole
1983 Robert Cox
1984 Mike Malone
1985 Glenn Coleman
1986 James Westdyke
1987 Steve Ferguson
1988 David McCarley
1989 Mike Livezey
1990 Bill Bradshaw
1991 Ronnie Fisher
1992 Barbara Kirkwood
1993 Bill Dowdy
1994 Terry Sanner
1995 Dennis Williams
1996 Keith Reeder
1997 Rusty Stephens
1998 Sara Thomas
1999 Sandra Williams
2000 Bill Robertson
2001 Ron Clary
2002 Rich Cole
2003 Mark CarswelI
2004 Lee Young
2005 Sandy Dickey
2006 Jim Blazier
2007 Terry Witt
2008 Lori Bhargava
2009 Kent Paluga
2010 Matt Johnson
2011 Joe Sparling
2012 Brian Hazelwood
2013 Rob Nelson
2014 Jim Cairo

Club Projects

Much like today, McKinney’s service clubs [Kiwanis, Jaycees, Lions, Rotary, etc] raised monies for their projects through a variety of means. If one club sponsored a certain kind of effort or event, others would support it but would never copy it. The first such event sponsored by Kiwanis was the Pancake Breakfast…but there were many more. Of course, the main objective was to raise money, but equally important was simply to have fun doing them.
Pancake Breakfast:
The ‘breakfast’ usually started about 5 in the morning and often lasted until midnight. Aunt Jemima furnished the pancake mix and even showed up in person a few times. Sausage was furnished by Allen’s or Jack Weeks.
Over the years, the location has changed, but the process was about the same. A restaurant owner out on Hwy 24, now 380, would give us his restaurant for the day, and Louis Chandler would stand out on the side of the road with a cowbell attracting passers-by.
The cooking process graduated from several small grills [and resulting long lines] to a monster revolving grill borrowed from the Richardson club. Many members still recall trying to jockey that behemoth into the serving line at the old high school. Four or five of us would get on one end and Ronnie Thomason would get the other end. Oh, but the pancakes were always good!
Just about everyone in town would show up in the early days and would stay and visit for hours. It was a slower time when we took the opportunity to sit and visit and catch up on the gossip and the grand kids. 
Accompanying the breakfast was always an auction of sorts. The most interesting items would appear…including the year-long use of a pick-up truck.
Radio Auction:
From the beginning, the McKinney Kiwanis club supported local projects and children's causes by means of community fundraisers.  One early fund-raising project was the annual M'Kinney Kiwanis Club Radio Auction.  Callers would listen to radio station KMAE and place their bids for items by telephone (radio was that old-timey thing that came before the internet). 
Who knows, maybe we need to bring this idea into the internet age and start selling flying babies on E-Bay!
Page 9 from the Tuesday, June 16, 1953 edition
of the McKinney Courier Gazette
Ramp Building:
Over the past 25 years the Kiwanis Club of McKinney has constructed wheelchair ramps for residents of Collin County. The majority of the ramps are constructed in the communities of McKinney, Princeton, Farmersville, Melissa, Anna and Prosper. The residents that are normally in need of a ramp are older and have become dependant on a walker or a wheelchair. At times, the club constructs a ramp for younger residents that have special needs.
Club members pose with ramp in the fall of 2015
In addition to measuring, planning and installing over 15 ramps this year, every month the club provides volunteers to assemble the modules that are used to build a ramp. The materials and modules that are used to construct a ramp are provided through Texas Ramps. Texas Ramps warehouse is located in North Dallas and is a division of the Kiwanis Club of Richardson.
The McKinney Kiwanis Club provides these ramps at no cost to residents that qualify. The club uses funds from their three major fund-raisers a year to finance this project. The average cost of a ramp in materials is over $750 with all of the labor coming from club volunteers.
The first Tuesday of every month you can find our club members at the Park Manor Nursing Home of McKinney calling Bingo for the residents. We have been providing Bingo nights for over fifteen years. Volunteers from our club assist the residents that need help playing their cards.
"The Regulars" entertain nursing home residents monthly
Kiwanis Club volunteers call the games and check all bingos. Each bingo is awarded with a one-dollar coin provided by the Kiwanis Club. Often, club members will bring holiday-themed gifts, crafts such as birdhouses, and goodies like home-baked cupcakes and valentine candy to brighten the residents' day. Residents of Park Manor look forward to the Bingo evenings and are quite excited when they get bingo.
The “Regular Bingo Volunteers”, as they have dubbed themselves, meet prior to the bingo games for dinner and visitation, and then proceed to Park Manor Nursing Home. Some of the regular Kiwanis volunteers include Paula Ator, John and Jan Moore, Dr. Mack Hill, Sandra Williams, Margaret Bush, Joe Sparling, Terry Sanner, Charlie Phillips, Mike Baumgardner, and Carroll Maxwell.
Kiwanis member, Paula Ator said, ”What a pleasure it is each month to play bingo with the residents of Park Manor. They have great stories to tell about where and when they grew up. The residents of Park Manor are the generation that went through both the depression and World War II.”
Shooting for the Future
In early 2014, a group of "club newbies" started the Shooting for the Future sporting clays event to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County.  The core group, Tom Day, Beth Hensley, Michelle Beatty, and Rachael Weinmann, proposed the project to the club's board of directors as a way to fund some pressing needs at the local Boys and Girls Club.  Tom had visited with Mike Simpson of the BGCCC and asked him what the Kiwanis Club could do the help in their efforts to serve the community's at-risk kids.  Mike's top suggestion was fundraising to help with rennovation and expansion needs for the local club's facilities.  The board of directors approved the project and the first annual "SFTF" event was held on September 11, 2014.
Tom Day shoots at a clay during the First Annual Shooting for the Future event in 2014
Sporting clay events such as Shooting for the Future feature a golf-like game in which the participants ride in golf carts from one shooting station to the next, firing at 3 or 4 pairs of clay pigeons at each station.  Funds from the event are raised through corporate sponsorships, team and individual entry fees, cash donations, and revenues from auction and raffle items donated to the event. 
The second annual event, held on August 15, 2015 netted nearly twice as much funds as the first.  With luck the event will continue to grow in popularity and help the BGCCC meet their pressing needs.

Copyright(C) 2012-2018 Kiwanis Club of McKinney Tx. All rights reserved.