Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 by a group of businessmen in Detroit, Michigan, USA. The organization was originally called the Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order of Brothers but changed its name to Kiwanis a year later.
The name "Kiwanis" was coined from an expression in an American Indian language of the Detroit area, "Nunc Kee-wanis," which means, "we trade." In 1920, the motto of Kiwanis became “We Build.” It remained the motto until 2005 when members voted to change it to “serving the children of the world.” In the early years, members focused on business networking but in 1919, the organization changed its focus to service—specifically service to children.
Kiwanis became an international organization with the founding of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1916. Kiwanis clubs formed in communities across the United States and Canada until the 1960s when a worldwide expansion was approved. Today, Kiwanis clubs are helping children thrive, prosper and grow in nearly 80 nations and geographic locations.
All people are welcome to participate in the Kiwanis movement of improving communities for children. In 1987, women were invited to join. In 2008, delegates approved a resolution that calls for Kiwanis clubs to celebrate and foster inclusiveness.
Kiwanis In Lubbock
The Kiwanis Club of Lubbock started in 1922. The first meeting was in the parlor of the First Methodist Church.
Annually, a celebration is held that coincides closely with the 100th anniversary of the official opening of Kiwanis International on Jan. 21, 1915.
Wayne Kohout, president of Kiwanis Club of Lubbock, said, “Our club started in 1922.”
He said the civic organization focuses on helping children.
“That was their motto then, and we still do that.”
According to Kohout, funds are raised by putting out flags at homes and businesses on five holidays, and the proceeds then go to support organizations that help children. The five holidays are Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day.
“We put flags out in the morning and pick them up in the evening for homes, businesses, and anybody that needs them. All the money we collect from that - meaning no expenses are taken out - goes toward helping children.”
Kohout said an example of how the Kiwanis focuses on children can be seen through the many programs that are funded and supported.
“From fishing at the annual "Vamos a Pescar, Let's Go Fishing” event to the Special Olympics, to the Children's Home of Lubbock, to therapy miniature ponies, we support programs that enhance and empower children," said Kohout.
He added that Kiwanis takes pride in advocating for programs that directly impact children.
Further, Kiwanis typically provides from $20,000 to $30,000 for scholarships each year in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Texas Tech.
“We have about 60 members now, and although we are medium size, we carry a big pledge - we are a very lighthearted club. Usually, people who come and visit looking for a club, join the next day. If they visit and see the love and camaraderie we have all the time, they look no further.”
He said that in the last few months their organizations have seen a growing interest in women and millennials, which he said the organization always strives for inclusion.
An invitation is always open to those who are interested in the Kiwanis Club of Lubbock organization.
“We meet every Thursday at noon at River Smith’s. We have great food, and they are invited at our expense - they are welcome to come and check us out.”