Kiwanis International was founded on January 21, 1915, in Detroit, Michigan. Kiwanis is a Native American word meaning “We gather and make noise.” In the early years, members focused on business networking; but in 1919 the organization changed its focus to service. Worldwide expansion was approved in the 1960’s; and within the decade, Kiwanis International-Europe was formed, representing Kiwanians in 11 European nations. Women officially were officially allowed into the membership in 1987. In 2005, delegates to the 90th anniversary International Convention voted to adopt a new motto, “Serving the Children of the World,” to emphasize the primary focus of Kiwanis service over those nine decades and make a commitment for the future.
Kiwanis clubs take on humanitarian and civic projects that many public authorities are not prepared or able to perform. A typical Kiwanis club plans hands-on projects focusing on the special needs of their community, such as helping the elderly, promoting literacy, or supporting youth sports. In addition to attending club meetings, most Kiwanis members volunteer at least two hours each month for projects involving children or persons in need. The Kiwanis family includes organizations for young people which are sponsored by individual clubs and by the Kiwanis International Foundation. K-Kids at the elementary level, Builders Clubs at the middle school level, Aktion Clubs for people living with a disability, Kiwanis Junior for young adults in Europe between the ages of 18 and 32, Key Clubs at the high school level, and Circle K Club at the college level all provide youth with the opportunity to help others, become personally involved in their community, and build a positive future.
The Kiwanis Club of Wilton Manors was chartered on September, 19, 1950. Some of the earliest members were actively involved with the city – Frank O. Miller (our first president), Harold Price, Robert Stafford, James Dean, and Perry Mickel. We are the oldest continuously operating service club in the city, and are fortunate to have our own waterfront clubhouse, which we can rent out to raise additional funds for service projects. Dedicated in 1958, our clubhouse was designated as a Historic Landmark by the Wilton Manors Historical Society in 2015.
Although the Kiwanis Club of Wilton Manors is a relatively small chapter, we definitely “gather”, have fun, and make a lot of “noise” through service to our community, fundraising, and forging partnerships with local businesses and organizations.