Doing the most good

Doing the most good

What if you were able to recognize a problem and figure out the best way to solve it?

There are countless headlines about events that make us want to reach out and help. The pandemic. Natural disasters. Hunger. Homelessness. The list goes on and on.
But there’s good news in there: We can do something about it. No matter how small a step we take, we can go in the right direction to make this world happier, safer and healthier for everyone.
The first step is recognizing what needs to happen. Then we do the work.
Sounds hard, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Every act of service puts us closer to a better world.
The photos on the following pages show acts of service by members of Kiwanis from all over the world. You’ll see service in every form — from life-changing medical, educational and disaster-relief support to community fundraisers and cultural events that bring people from all walks of life together for fun. Helping others goes beyond building a home or funding a scholarship — though many members have done just that. Helping others can also create experiences that leave positive memories for a lifetime.
We hope you find the inspiration to make a difference.
Just ask yourself: What if?

Angelo Ciardella

In times of a pandemic

Many Kiwanis members played key roles in the fight against COVID-19, including personal support worker and nursing student Angelo Ciardella, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.



What if you could reach children wherever they are?

Kids need help at home, at school, in sports, in hospitals … all over and everywhere. Members of Kiwanis clubs help children and families in all areas of the world, be it during a Kiwanis One Day event in Japan, teaching music at the Institute for Blind Children in Owinska, Poland (above) or providing bicycles to children in Lesotho, Africa (below). There are children who need help right now, even in your own backyard. Reaching them through a Kiwanis club offers you a friendly environment for providing all types of much-needed service.



What if you could help when it’s needed most?

Emergencies are unpredictable and almost always require immediate attention. Kiwanis clubs have been at the ready for more than 100 years, providing help when the unforeseen strikes. When children need special braces in Mongolia, Kiwanis is there. When hurricanes leave destruction and devastation in their paths, Kiwanis members are there to stock shelves with much-needed food and health supplies. When a struggling family needs somewhere safe to call home, the Kiwanis family is there with hammers and nails. And when refugees need everything to start their lives anew, Kiwanis is there to offer clothing, food, supplies, help and a warm welcome. Kids need Kiwanis. Families need Kiwanis. And Kiwanis is there when needed most.




What if you could give children a safe place to play and learn?

Every kid has a job to do, and that’s to play and learn. As adults, our job is to keep them safe and make sure they have somewhere to do their best work. Kiwanis clubs often have just the project — whether building playgrounds, play spaces and ballparks or providing funds for school supplies and class projects. In Ankara, Turkey, Kiwanians helped make a creative learning environment and studio at a progressive school, where students use drama and art to complement their education.



What if you could help today’s teens become tomorrow’s leaders?

Is anything better than helping kids grow and succeed? Kiwanis members don’t think so. That’s why they dedicate countless hours to working alongside youth. In fact, Kiwanis clubs sponsor the organization’s Service Leadership Programs (K-Kids, Builders Club, Key Club and Circle K International) to give young people the opportunity to lead through service. Many people credit their time in Kiwanis youth programs with making them who they are today, providing them opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise and opening doors that might have remained closed. For example, CKI members tackle projects both large and small to make positive change happen in communities — such as the Large Scale Service Projects (above) conducted during many of their annual conventions. Harold Ekah (below) was a Key Club member. He credits a strong support system for his achievement of getting accepted to all eight Ivy League schools. “I want to be able to say I made a difference in my community and made a difference in my world, and that’s what Key Club really inspired me to do,” Ekah says. “If you see something wrong in your community, you have the power to change that.”


Harold Ekah

What if you could help people help themselves?

It’s one thing to give a house to someone who doesn’t have a home. It’s another to work alongside them to build one. But that’s what many Kiwanis members do, for instance, when their clubs work with Habitat For Humanity on projects that change countless lives. And Kiwanians in Nevada don’t just hand out bicycles — they teach people of all ages how to fix and maintain them. In Basel, Switzerland, Kiwanis members support a refugee-run kitchen that provides more than a hot meal and training. It also provides community and hope.



What if you could offer tools for healthier living?

Not everyone has access to healthy foods or the vitamins and minerals people need on a daily basis — or even to clean water. But Kiwanis clubs around the world are there to help when and where they can. In Japan, Kiwanians sponsored a Healthy Cooking Expo. In Calgary, the Apple Festival creates an opportunity for kids to develop a lifelong love for apples. Around the world, Kiwanis members raise funds to ensure salt is iodized as part of the global campaign to end iodine deficiency disorders. And in Guatemala, Key Club members teach children proper handwashing techniques while building a water station at the school there.



What if you could give children the tools to become lifelong readers?

Here are some facts that might surprise you: Children who are read to for at least 20 minutes a day are exposed to almost 2 million words per year. (India leads the world in amount of time spent reading.) The global literacy rate for all people ages 15 and older is right around 86%. But it’s important to point out that about 775 million people can’t read, and the poorest countries still have large segments of the population who are illiterate. Kiwanis knows the importance of literacy and learning. Through countless projects, clubs around the world focus on reading to children, donating books and ensuring that books are available to kids and their families.


This story originally appeared in the April/May 2022 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

Why and how to serve

Why and how to serve

Giving your time and talent to a worthy cause can benefit you as well as others.

Scrolling through social media, you see a post from the local high school. You see that some teens traveled to Central America during spring break to work on a sanitation project. The images show they did a lot of hard work. And their smiling faces show it must have been worth every drop of sweat to be there, surrounded by happy children and thankful teachers. You wonder what that must be like, to give to a community so far away. It seems like they had a life-changing experience, from what you can tell in the photos. Then you go on with your day.

Later that afternoon, you read a story on a national news website about several families a few time zones away. They have started to collect household and personal items for families displaced by catastrophic flooding. The image of a shoeless toddler in her mom’s arms, weeping, sticks with you as you head out to pick up your own kids at school.

After dinner, you settle in to watch the news on television. There’s a story about a group that organizes a successful 15K run every year. They’re looking for more volunteers. 

Now you’re asking yourself: Why am I not doing stuff like this?



Well, you should be doing stuff exactly like this. And here’s one compelling reason: Study after study shows that volunteering does more than just make you feel good. In fact, volunteering with a group like your local Kiwanis club multiplies these benefits. For example:

  • Volunteering enhances social networks, which buffer people against stress and disease and ease pressure on health systems.
  • Volunteering improves mental health and contributes to higher levels of happiness, self-esteem, self-worth and life satisfaction.
  • Service organizations galvanize communities in times of need.
  • Service organizations contribute to economic growth via community investment.
  • Areas with higher volunteer rates are more likely to have lower mortality rates and lower incidence of heart disease.
  • Volunteering develops life skills and leadership abilities and can lead to employment opportunities.
  • Volunteering increases awareness and understanding of public issues.
  • Students who participate in community service-learning tend to do better in school and are more likely to become future voters.
  • Service-learning enhances understanding of diverse cultures and communities, and binds people through shared experiences.

More important, children thrive and survive when you volunteer. Your community becomes safer, cleaner, friendlier and kinder when you volunteer. And the world becomes a better place to live when you volunteer.

But don’t be intimidated. The world needs all types of volunteers. When you read about or see these types of stories on television, how do you see yourself in that scenario? Does your personality sway you toward hands-on service? Maybe you’re more of a behind-the-scenes planner. That’s great. The world needs those as well. Or maybe you know people who know people and can line up other people for fundraising and marketing. That’s fantastic too. The world needs you, no matter what kind of help you can give. 

With a few questions, we can help you figure out how to give it.

What can you do?
There are countless ways and places to volunteer. You can go out on your own. Read to children at a laundromat. Pick up trash in a park. Donate blood. You can offer to help associations such as Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters or Red Cross/Red Crescent.

You can walk, bike, swim and teeter-totter to raise funds and awareness for a cause.

These are all good options. But we think you should consider volunteering with a group, possibly at a place of worship, a community-service club or, of course, Kiwanis. Through the bonds of friendships and the leadership experiences they’ve gained in our clubs, many of our members have discovered a deeper passion to serve.


What is Kiwanis?
Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. Schools, hospitals, governments, other nonprofits, corporations, foundations and more have reaped the benefits of collaborating with Kiwanis clubs. Our clubs are involved in more than 150,000 community-service projects each year and annually raise more than US$133 million. Together we dedicate more than 19 million service hours to strengthen communities and help children.

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund provides grants to support projects related to the Kiwanis causes of childhood health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development. 

Kiwanis clubs are the heart of the organization. In our 8,000-plus clubs worldwide, children are served and communities are improved. We hope you consider membership in one of them. But first, let’s introduce the rest of our Kiwanis family, the Service Leadership Programs:

  • Aktion Club is the only service club for adults with disabilities (
  • Circle K International is the world’s largest student-led collegiate service organization (
  • Key Club provides high school-age members with opportunities to serve, build character and develop leadership (
  • Key Leader is a weekend program for high school-age students with a mission to inspire young people to achieve their personal best through service leadership (
  • Builders Club is the largest service club program for middle school and junior high school students (
  • K-Kids is the largest service club program for elementary school students (


We work with the best
When people work together, they reach more children and families in need. That’s why Kiwanis teams up with partners who share our values, our collaborative mindset and our desire to make the world a better place for children. Thanks to partnerships, we collaborate with UNICEF, Landscape Structures Inc., Nickelodeon, Sister Cities International, JCI, March of Dimes, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National League of Cities, Reading is Fundamental, Office Depot, Children’s Miracle Network, Up with People, The Thirst Project, ShopWithScrip, PerkSpot, eHealth, Emergency Assistance Plus, ID Resolve, Cruise & Vacation Desk, Collette, Colonial Flag Foundation and Hilton to make a difference.

Finding the right fit
The first step to joining a Kiwanis club is deciding what type of club you’d like to join. Whether you’re young or retired, single or have a family, seeking professional networking opportunities or looking for fun and friends, Kiwanis likely has a club for you. That’s because all clubs have something in common: a commitment to improving communities and serving children. Kiwanis offers different types of clubs to consider:

  • Traditional clubs, the most common kind, meet weekly or twice a month. Some may recite a pledge, pray and sing. Others don’t. Some may write checks while others prefer hands-on action. Some may offer opportunities for career networking.
  • Internet clubs offer flexibility for those who travel often or cannot attend traditional meetings. They operate in much the same way as traditional clubs, but their meetings are generally conducted in online chat rooms, meeting face-to-face at service projects and fundraisers.
  • Young professional clubs meet the needs of younger members with busy lifestyles. They offer flexible meeting schedules and an emphasis on hands-on service, often paired with social activities for members and their families.
  • Golden K clubs consist of retired men and women who maintain busy lifestyles and a strong desire to make a difference in their communities. These clubs generally operate much like traditional clubs.
  • 3-2-1 clubs put a strong emphasis on serving more and meeting less, with a monthly schedule of three hours of service, two hours of social activity and one hour for meetings.

Within these categories, clubs may have adopted variations:

  • Family clubs attract adults who want to socialize and serve with their spouses or children along with other families.
  • Cause-focused clubs identify a specific cause to serve, such as literacy, a camp or LGBTQ issues.
  • Interest-focused clubs consist of members who have a united interest, such as knitting, motorcycling or golf.

How to find a Kiwanis club
The quickest way to identify clubs in your community is to visit This club locator will provide a list of clubs in the area and the place and time of their meetings. Some clubs include information about their signature projects. There’s even a box to click if you’d like someone to contact you with more information about a club.

Once you’ve identified a possible club, visit a meeting and a service project. Your attendance will help you get to know the members, and you’ll witness the club’s impact on the community. Once you’re there, ask these questions:

  • What is the club’s signature project? (What are they known for in the community?)
  • What are the dues and fees? And beyond dues and fees, what other financial and time commitments are expected or suggested from members?
  • Is the club more involved in fundraising or hands-on service?
  • What are its plans for the future?

If you don’t find your kind of club or one that fits your schedule, consider gathering some friends and opening a Kiwanis club that meets your needs and interests. Call +1 317-875-8755, ext. 411, or email for more information.


What to do when you join
Make friends. Whether you’re outgoing or shy, Kiwanis members are welcoming, friendly people. They’ll suggest some great ways to explore further opportunities when you’re ready, such as joining a committee or helping with Kiwanis youth clubs. Whatever kind of Kiwanis club you join, you’ll find a unique opportunity to have fun while doing good.

This story originally appeared in the April/May 2022 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

Big ideas

Big ideas

Three Virginia clubs combine to create magic in a children’s library space.

Story By Julie Saetre • Photos by Katherine Sparks

In 2017, when staff at the James City County Library in Williamsburg, Virginia, launched a monthly large-scale STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) program for children, the response was immediate and enthusiastic.

That didn’t surprise Sandy Towers, then the library’s youth services director. 

“There were no free places where kids and their families could go and experience these kinds of learning activities,” Towers, now the library’s assistant director, says. “We realized that there was nothing in our community that was addressing that need.”

The library, located in a less-populated area of the city, was underused, despite its bright, spacious 7,500-square-foot children’s area. So when STEAM Saturdays became an instant hit, staff saw an opportunity.



“That’s when we thought, ‘Maybe we can create this kind of learning every day, seven days a week,’” Towers says. 

James City County owns the library and agreed to fund the basics needed for a remodel of the children’s space: lights, carpeting, etc. But Betsy Fowler, the library’s director, envisioned and designed a space filled with a blend of interactive STEAM exhibits integrated alongside corresponding book collections. Who better to answer the call than Kiwanians?

“The Kiwanis groups and friends did what we call the magic,” Towers says, “which is all of the exciting exhibits that the kids enjoy.”

The library foundation’s major-gifts chairperson is also a member of the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club. He shared information about the project with the club, and fellow member Rolf Kramer immediately volunteered to chair a committee to raise funds. He reached out to the Toano and Colonial Capital Kiwanis clubs, and for the first time, the three collaborated on a project.

Each club set a fundraising goal in accordance with its size; together, they raised US$112,000 for what would become the Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio. It celebrated its grand opening in June 2021 — much to the delight of the 2,000 children who visited that first day alone.



The transformed space now features hands-on exhibits that combine learning with fun, created specifically for the library after Towers and Fowler toured multiple children’s museums to glean ideas. The 12-foot-tall Awesome Air Tubes use air-propelled scarves to help kids understand cause and effect. A giant Lite-Brite-type display allows young visitors to create designs out of colorful backlit Lucite pegs.

Other exhibits include a large vertical LEGO® board, a magnetic gear wall and a kid-size kitchen, fully stocked market and a veterinary office complete with X-rays of real animals. 

“We were hoping to create a space where the kids would want to come back again and again and again,” Towers says. 

By any measure, they succeeded. The Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio saw 4,000 children visit weekly during the busy months of June, July and August this year. And circulation of children’s materials has increased 31%.

“Let me tell you,” says Towers, “it’s a happy place.”

This story originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of Kiwanis magaine.