On December 3rd, President Lucky Lang of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island imparted the story of the club and its history. The Coastal Breeze News is honored to share that tale with the following written recount from the presentation made by President Lucky Lang himself.
Beginning of Kiwanis
Kiwanis was founded on January 21, 1915, in Detroit, MI. Kiwanis came from an American Indian expression meaning, “We Trade.” In 1920, the Motto became, “We Build.” In 2005, the Motto became, “Serving The Children Of The World.”
The Kiwanis Club of Davenport, IA, was founded in 1920 and I joined in 1986. The Kiwanis Club of Marco Island was founded around 1983 when they met at the old Yacht Club. After two attempts at getting up and running, in 1993 it was “Third Time’s A Charm!”
Mission Statement: “To enhance our communities and enrich the lives of our children through service.”
What Does Kiwanis Do to Support the Community?
It’s bought $20,000 worth of much–needed computers for the high school on the island—Marco Island Academy. Rebuilt an outdated TV Studio at the MI Charter Middle School at a cost of $17,000. Through simple wear and tear and outdated technology, the studio was inoperable. With the donation from Kiwanis, the studio was rebuilt, TV schoolwide broadcasts have resumed, and the presence of communications technology is much more evident throughout the school. This has enabled opportunities for telecommunications training at our local middle school to be brought up to current standards.
We gave away over 3,000 books through RIF (Reading Is Fundamental), a program that provides all students at Manatee and Tommie Barfield Elementary Schools with multiple opportunities during the school year to select and keep a book of their choosing. This program ensures that all children at each of our local elementary schools have reading materials in their homes and is supported because book ownership and the availability of student self‐selected reading materials are indicators of positive growth in reading and writing.
We support the expansion of library resources in selected elementary schools, specifically Shadowlawn and Tommie Barfield. Local Kiwanians collaborate with school media specialists to identify gaps in school collections, and then provide the funding to fill identified needs.
We mentored and financially supported the most incredible Key Club at MI Academy as well as provided $10,000 in scholarships to outstanding graduating seniors who have evidenced a significant commitment to their Key Clubs and to serving their communities. It is not uncommon to have over 80 Key Clubbers assisting at our bigger events. The Key Club trains future leaders and acquaints all its members with ongoing opportunities for community service.
Annually, on some primary and election days, Kiwanians staff one voting precinct on Marco Island. After full training, we provide a community service by offering efficient and friendly support to the voting public.
We help fund Meals of Hope, an organization that packages food for families that in part goes to local schools for teachers to send home with students who need them for weekends and school vacations.
We supported Christmas in July, which helps provide clothing and school supplies to homeless children across Collier County.
We stocked Teachers’ Closets with supplies so that they wouldn’t have to dip into their own funds.
We secured dental care through our Karing For Kids program for a handful of children referred to us by their schools, children who were unable to learn because of severe infection and constant pain.
For 15 years, we have provided every child at Manatee (from 600 to over 800) a Christmas gift through our Toys For Kids program with Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus helping each year with the distributions.
We provided needy families at Tommie Barfield gift cards so that their children too could experience Christmas joy. We also provided a selection of toys for teachers to give to families they know are particularly needy.
We supported the Literacy Buddy Project of the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. This project matches adult volunteers who respond to the written requests of young children for specific books or specific kinds of books. Through this informal way, children learn about the power of reading and writing and show significant growth in their literacy skills throughout the course of one school year and the three exchanges of letters and books.
We held Beach and Road Clean Ups.
We support local charities such as Grace Place and summer camp scholarships at Mackle Park and the YMCA that ensure children have continuing opportunities to grow their skills by reading, writing, and discussing age-appropriate materials.
We donated funds to Young Children: Priority One, an ongoing community service program that addresses the needs of children age 0‐5. Priority One projects include funding needed materials for early learning programs on Marco Island one year and in another year honoring outstanding PreK teachers at an awards luncheon with the funding requested to enhance the honorees’ instructional programs.
We support Terrific Kids, a program in which children from Tommie Barfield or Manatee elementary schools address the Kiwanis audience and enjoy a special breakfast with their families once monthly. These children are chosen by the school staff, and during their presentations, they answer questions about themselves, their families, and their aspirations for the future. This program provides opportunities for children to gain experience in public speaking and in outlining their thoughts in coherent ways, skills that are critical for success in school and success in life.
In a few words, we raise money to enhance the lives of children, many of whom are in need.