Fundraising car wash set for Sunday, March 12, at Les Schwab
By Julia Sommer for Ashland.news
The Kiwanis Club of Ashland — part of Kiwanis International’s half-million members around the world — was founded in 1947. Women were invited to join in 1987, and in 2008 Kiwanis International approved a resolution calling for clubs to “celebrate and foster inclusiveness.”
Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 by a group of Detroit businessmen. The name was coined from an Otchipew Native American expression, “Nunc kee-wanis,” meaning “We trade.” In 1920, the motto was changed to “We Build,” and in 2005 to “Serving the Children of the World.”
To that end, Ashland Kiwanis sponsors a Key Club at Ashland High School — kind of a junior Kiwanis. With a membership of 68, it is the largest Key Club in Southern Oregon. The Kiwanis also sponsor a Builders Club at Ashland Middle School (a junior-junior Kiwanis). This year the Key Club has raised money for OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, transportation for an Ashland student with cerebral palsy, and UNICEF.
Coming up, Key Club and Kiwanis will participate in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 4, at the Rogue Valley Country Club.
The Key Club will offer a car wash at Ashland’s Les Schwab from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 12, with proceeds going to the Thirst Project, which supports digging wells in Africa to provide safe drinking water. The Builders Club also supports the Thirst Project and has made welcome boxes for foster children this year.
Ashland Kiwanis awards scholarships to Ashland High School seniors, sponsors and helps staff Special Olympics events in Southern Oregon, runs a Postcard Buddy program for middle-schoolers, reads to elementary students, buys a book for every kindergartener, fourth-, and fifth-grader, and sponsors Nature Center school field trips and an essay-writing contest for elementary school students. Winners receive gift certificates from a local bookstore.
Kiwanis also distributes ACCESS food bags from 4 to 6 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Gracepoint Church.
Its biggest fundraiser is the Monster Dash fun run in the fall, which last year raised $43,000 for the Ashland Schools Foundation.
The current Ashland Kiwanis president is retired realtor Sandy Kuykendall, the longest-serving member, since 1990. She has been president five times.
“I joined because my parents showed me it was important to serve your community,” she says. “I stayed because I felt more a part of our community. And it’s fun to do a variety of hands-on projects such as Special Olympics tournaments, picking out books for students, and helping raise money for teacher grants (Monster Dash). Also, I enjoy seeing students inspired to do service (Key Club). Kiwanis gives people opportunities to work together to achieve more than they could by themselves.”
Vice President Don Paul, a retired Ashland firefighter, joined Ashland Kiwanis in 1992. “It’s a good way to give back to the community and help kids,” he says. “I enjoy the camaraderie; it’s like a family.”
Ashland Kiwanis currently has 28 members. “More members are needed and welcomed,” says treasurer and Ashland CPA Mike Bakke, another 30-plus-year member.
Business meetings over lunch are held from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday at the Elks Club; visitors are welcome. Attendance for members is not mandatory. Each meeting features a guest speaker. Just before Valentine’s Day, it was Branson’s Chocolates co-founder Deena Branson. Delicious chocolates were distributed.
Most of the money Ashland Kiwanis raises comes from its 40-plus-year tradition of placing American flags on 10 national holidays and some special dates at business and home locations throughout town and along Siskiyou Boulevard. The annual subscription fee is $60. For more information, phone Mike Bakke at 541-488-8065.
The other big Kiwanis fundraiser has been the popular pre-Christmas sale of See’s candies from a trailer near the BiMart parking lot, but that may not continue without volunteers to pull the trailer twice a day.
For more information about the Ashland Kiwanis club, see their website, ashlandkiwanis.org, email Ron Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend one of their Tuesday noon meetings.
Email freelance writer Julia Sommer of Ashland at email@example.com.