Just six years after Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 by a group of businessmen in Detroit the Kiwanis Club of Daytona Beach started and is continuing 100 years of providing much-needed services to the community.
Besides being the oldest club in Volusia County, it is the third oldest in the state.
All Kiwanis clubs are part of a global community with members and partners dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time. There are more than 550,000 members from K-Kids to Key Club to Kiwanis and many ages in between 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.
Daytona Kiwanis sponsors Key Clubs at Mainland and Spruce Creek high schools, and K-Kids and Terrific Kids at South Daytona and Sugar Mill elementary schools. The club also sponsor a Builders Club at Silver Sands Middle School. There is Satellite Daytona Beach Kiwanis Club at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
K-Kids and Terrific Kids help develop basic leadership and strong moral character by working in service to school and community with opportunities to learn about organizing projects that help others. The program encourages students to set and achieve goals, effectively work with others, use good character every day and help young kids become thoughtful, enthusiastic, respectful, responsible, friendly, inquisitive and capable citizens today and in the future.
The club's current secretary is well in tune with its work with schools and students.
Jim Rademacher, a Kiwanis member for 36 years, taught at Mainland and sponsored the Key Club there. Mr. Rademacher is proud of the upcoming back-to-school clothing drive the club sponsors where underprivileged families with children in kindergarten through junior high are able to get a complete set of back-to-school clothes, so they can worry about their grades and not their clothes. The club partners with JCPenny.
“We’ve probably done it for 50 years. We’ve got $10,000 set aside this year,” he said. “Each kid (150 to 200 total children) gets about $60 to $70 dollars’ worth of credit to shop at JCPenny.”
Much of the money raised for the back-to-school shopping is through the club's annual golf tournament.
“We’ve been doing that for 46 years,” Mr. Rademacher said. “People can donate if they wish. We work closely with organizations like Family Renew and other organizations that have summer camps for underprivileged children and we reach out to them as well.
“We also reach out to some of the people on the county level who go into some of the homes of the underprivileged and we get names from them as well,” he said. “The whole idea is for these underprivileged kids to, at least on the first day of school, go back with some brand-new clothes so they don’t feel like they are left out.”
Daytona Kiwanis generally provides service to children in the Halifax area (the cities and communities along the Halifax River).
Other year-round programs include a summer reading program, the BUG (Bring Up Grades) program for elementary schools, Community Christmas Club (where Kiwanis members assist both monetarily and physically to deliver close to 1,000 boxes of food to Daytona Beach area families during the holidays) and a scholarship program.
Besides annual events and ongoing programs, Kiwanis members are open to assisting the community wherever they are needed.
Kiwanis has contributed to many local charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Children's Advocacy Center, Council on Aging of Volusia County/Meals on Wheels, Coalition for the Homeless, Futures, Inc., Mental Health Association of Volusia County, Christ Team, Association of Retarded Citizens, American Red Cross and the Child Care Research Network, just to name a few. 100% of the funds raised go back into the Daytona Beach Area Community.
Besides Mr. Rademacher, Daytona Kiwanis officers include President-elect Suzette Cameron, Immediate Past President Tia Lloyd and Treasurer Mike Duranceau.
Mr. Rademacher said there also are Kiwanis Clubs in Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, DeLand and New Smyrna Beach.
Kiwanis is open to anyone. Daytona Kiwanis Meetings are twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesday at the Halifax River Yacht Club. For more information visit daytonabeachkiwanis.org.