Kiwanis Club is looking for new members
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Oct 08, 2013 | 978 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What started out as an energetic organization over 40 years ago, the Kiwanis Club has now dwindled to eight members - and only four of them are active.

“Right now, everybody that’s in the club is an officer,” said president Jim Wilson. “We had an agreement to keep it going for a while, so each of us has accepted officer responsibility.”

Steve Smith is vice president for education. The club has an educator of the month and, since Smith is on the city school board, the other members felt that it would be best if he handled that part of the club’s work. He will also be a liaison for the Key Club at Jacksonville and Pleasant Valley high schools, which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.

“Smith will focus on our relationship with the schools and, since our primary function in Kiwanis is trying to encourage and support young people, that’s very important to us,” said Wilson.

Dick Bell is vice president for projects. Bell organizes the club’s pancake meals which are usually in March and is the club’s primary fundraiser. Bell is a charter member of the club.

“It’s much smaller than the Anniston and Gadsden events, which raise thousands of dollars, but ours is important to us because it’s a primary source for the things we do for young people,” said Wilson. “We’ve also, in the past, provided scholarships, and we hope to continue to do that.”

Wilson credits Bob Ford, secretary/treasurer, as being the most important officer.

“He’s the guy who has a lot of responsibility for the club and keeps up with everything financial,” said Wilson. “And he arranges our meals.”

Wilson believes there are several reasons why membership has dropped, including illness, death, family changes and employment situations.

He said the club has lost at least four members due to health reasons and three others who died.

“We’ve had some members whose jobs have taken them away,” he said. “It hasn’t been more than five years that we’ve had 25 active members. Also, people are busy, or they are reluctant to join a club. If they have young children, they’re involved in a lot of sports and other activities during the week, or they might be involved in their church and they don’t want to take on anything else.”

Wilson said that the remaining members have discussed changing the time and date of the meetings and would be happy to do so if that would help. Meetings are currently at noon the first and third Wednesdays at the Community Center. Meals are catered.

Wilson said there is a possibility that the remaining members will have to use social media more to make everyone aware that there is a Kiwanis Club.

“We’re going to also have to make more personal contacts,” he said. “I think we’ve thought that Jacksonville is our only source of members, because we’re in Jacksonville, but we may have to invite people from surrounding communities. Distance doesn’t seem to be a problem for a lot of people if they’re willing to be involved.”

Consideration is also being made to lowering the dues.

“It’s possible that there are some people on a fixed income who would join our club if our dues were less,” said Wilson. “So, we’re going to find a way to do that. We hope that will make our club more attractive.”

He encourages those who are retired to consider becoming a member.

“If they’re still active, it would give them a meaningful activity, something they can enjoy doing while being a part of a group of very interesting and committed citizens.”

He said the club has good programs with professionals who speak.

“If people will come, they’ll hear an interesting speaker,” he said.

Kiwanians have provided service to the Jacksonville in many ways. They’ve provided scholarships, underwritten costs for young people to attend leadership workshops and attend state and national conventions.

Members have a food drive each year for the Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center. They clean highways, maintain the Kiwanis walking trail and the pavilion at Germania Springs, sponsor sports teams for children, pick up litter, and landscape schools.

“So, now, we just need more members so that we can continue to do the projects or get new projects started,” said Wilson.

Anyone who would like to discuss becoming a member can call Wilson at 256-225-0146 or Bell at 256-239-3385.

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Kiwanis Club is looking for new members by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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