FLINT — Exciting changes taking place in Flint and Genesee County in 1917 when the Kiwanis Club was founded included a booming population, over-crowded schools and the departure of men into the service.
Recognizing the need to establish closer social and business relations and to provide service to the community, a group of business and professional men established the Kiwanis Club of Flint and embraced the Kiwanis International motto, “to improve the world, one community and one child at a time.”
For the Club’s first major project, members organized 5,000 volunteers including Boy Scouts, churches and other civic groups, to clean up the dump site on Moon Island, site of the former Atwood Lumber Mill — now occupied by Atwood Stadium. In 1923 the Club planted 61,000 seedlings on city-owned land on W. Pasadena. Harry Black who chaired the project convinced other Kiwanis clubs to help plant seedlings in Huron National Forest. The Lumberman’s Monument lists names of individuals and clubs who participated in the project. Special attention is given to the name of Harry Black.
The Educational Foundation Trust, established in 1924, made it possible for young men and women in Genesee County to further their education. Originally a loan program, it was converted to a scholarship in 1988. Currently 14 young people are being assisted with scholarships.
The Health Camp Fund was established in 1928 in cooperation with the Genesee County Tuberculosis Association to help children who had tuberculosis or had been in contact with the disease by providing good wholesome food, fresh air and necessary medical care. In 1933, the Association no longer had funds to support the camp so Kiwanis assumed responsibility for its operation. It closed in 1978 and is now part of the Genesee Recreation Area.
The earnings of the foundation have been used in recent years to provide grants to organizations who meet the needs of children and youth. As of 2010, over $18,000 dollars have been awarded.
In 1977, Bobby Crim approached the Kiwanis Club with his idea of starting a race to raise monies for Special Olympics. The Club jumped on board and has remained a staunch supporter of Special Olympics from its inception — financially and working the Friday night Special Olympics Race. In recognition of the Club’s early support, members are given the honor of handing out the medals to the 10 K racers.
The Flint Club with the other Kiwanis Clubs in District 17 purchased a house to be used as a group home for the Whaley Children’s Center. The clubs maintain the house and spend time on birthdays and holidays with the boys. Clubs also arrange outings for them. Kiwanis House and Whaley Children’s Center is one of our signature projects.
The Student Athlete of the Month/Year was brought to Kiwanis in 1993 by members of the Exchange Club which was in the process of disbanding. The chair of the Student Athlete Committee meets with a panel of high school athletic directors to select a male and female athlete of the month. The students are honored at a club luncheon each month.
A male and female Athlete of the Years is awarded the Donald B. Sark award at an annual meeting. The winners are awarded scholarships and all nominees receive medals.
Kiwanis members maintain the traffic triangle on Longway Boulevard, work at the Food Bank, ring bells for the Salvation Army, distribute dictionaries to third graders in selected Flint elementary schools and open the annual Children’s Miracle Network telethon on Channel 12.
And to ensure that young people continue the mission, The Flint Kiwanis Club sponsors a Key Club at Flushing High School. Key Club International is the oldest and largest service club for high school students. This active group provides service to the Flushing community, the Food Bank and also volunteers for the Crim.
Doloris Grays of Consumers Power is the current president of the Club. Gary Langdon, president-elect will assume the role next September.