Kiwanis Club serves children, looking to increase membership

Kiwanis Club members from left are Al Haar, Sandy Thissell, Azmi Shawa, John Epler, Ray Millner, Ed Norris, Susan Norris and President Skip Wilson. KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo

LONG BEACH - President Skip Wilson opened the weekly Kiwanis Club meeting at El Compadre Restaurant Wednesday noon by having Ray Millner lead the flag salute. The singing of "America the Beautiful" and "Oh Canada" followed and Al Haar read the Kiwanis prayer.

The Kiwanis have been meeting on the Peninsula since 1927, one of the oldest chapters in Washington, and have been serving children for almost 80 years. The Kiwanis began in 1915 in Detroit, has more than 600,000 members in 96 countries, and has as its motto "Serving the Children of the World."

The local meeting began with members spending "happy dollars" to share their stories. Tales of trips taken, a boat being built, an invitation to a hatchery project open house, and the discontinuing of dark chocolate candies were some of the topics discussed. The donations go in total to help fund special local projects for the Kiwanis.

Wilson shared stories of Chetlow (which means oyster) Harbor and Drunk Skunk Harbor and then Secretary Sandy Thissell reported that she is almost finished with updating the register of members' addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays. She said that Loyalty Day candidate Emily Thorne was given $175 from the Kiwanis and also 100 badges she can sell to earn more money to defray costs of her dress and other needs. The Kiwanis have sponsored one or two candidates each year for the 50 years of the Loyalty Day event.

A decision to meet at El Compadre every Wednesday at noon was made and passed and a recommendation to make a sign board to announce the Kiwanis meetings was also passed unanimously. John Epler, who has been a Kiwanis member for 33 years, told of a project to help Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program pre-school. The 28 three- and four-year-olds in ECEAP are each given nine books a year and a book bag. Epler also reads to first graders once a week and Edie Shire puts in about 40 hours a month helping at local schools.

Ed Norris told of the 3,400 hot dogs the Kiwanis donate each year during SandSations. He is also working closely with the schools to begin a Builder's Club chapter. Builder's Club is made up of middle school students who take on some of the tasks Kiwanis Club members do. Key Club for high school age students and Circle K for college students are also available.

The local Kiwanis members are beginning at the middle school level to develop student interest in the organization with hopes of a high school club starting in the near future. Norris and wife Susan attended last year's International Kiwanis Convention in Montreal. The local club is in a region that includes British Columbia.

Epler told how the Lions and Kiwanis Clubs get together to put on the annual Surf Perch Derby. This year's derby will be May 20 beginning with a breakfast. "This is I believe the only jointly run event on the Peninsula between two clubs. We have between 70 and 80 teams of fishermen each year," Epler explained.

Millner told of the donation of hospital equipment the club provides. He said the equipment is available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 13th and Idaho St. in Long Beach at 10 a.m. Such things as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and hospital beds are available free of charge. Anyone with a need for those items or who would like to donate unused hospital equipment can call Millner at 642-4450 for more information.

He said, "We give out about six pieces of equipment each week, but I'm guessing there could be double or even triple that need if people were aware of the program." Millner was given the OK to give local doctors a questionnaire about what patients may need. He said physical therapy equipment, including small dumb bells, and shower stools were currently in short supply.

Epler told of the Kiwanis $1,000 scholarship that goes to any sophomore in college who is in a business related field. He can be reached at 665-2598 for more information on the scholarship or the hospital equipment program.

Wilson mentioned that the Kiwanis sponsor the local Boy Scout troop and give financial support to the Girl Scouts as well. Camps at Cispus, the Washington State Patrol Law Enforcement Camp, and Camp Victory are other projects supported by the Kiwanis. The group donates two bicycles to be awarded at the end of summer school in the Ocean Beach District.

Epler read a thank you letter about the recent Coyote Tracks Club campout on Long Island that Kristi Freese of Ilwaco High School put on for her senior project that was supported by the Kiwanis Club.

Wilson concluded the meeting by encouraging new members to join. "We would welcome any ladies or gentlemen who would like to help out with any of our worthwhile projects," he said. Anyone interested in becoming a Kiwanis member should call Wilson at 642-8945 or just drop by Wednesday noon at the El Compadre Restaurant.

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