Service and cheesecake forge an international friendship 

Service and cheesecake forge an international friendship 

The Kiwanis name brings a German club and an American-style café together to serve their community.

By Erin Chandler

Kiwanis is a truly international organization — and it brings people together all over the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a small New York-style cheesecake café in the city of Hamburg, Germany. 

It all began when Peter Keller, then president-elect of the Kiwanis Club of Hamburg, walked into Jeff’s Cheesecake one day in 2023 and struck up a conversation with the owner, Jeff Alpert.  

When Keller mentioned his involvement with Kiwanis, he says, “Jeff laughed — he knew Kiwanis.” 

Alpert, who is from New York, U.S., has fond memories of being invited to play at the local Kiwanis club’s meetings as a student at the New York State Music Camp. “Other than that,” he says, “Kiwanis has a sign upon entering many city and town limits in the U.S. I guess it’s impossible to live in the U.S. and not have heard of Kiwanis.” 

At the time, the Kiwanis Club of Hamburg was looking for a new place to meet on Saturday mornings. Jeff’s Cheesecake is usually closed at that time, but Alpert quickly agreed to open the café and outdoor pavilion for the meeting — which concluded with two cheesecakes topped with the word “Kiwanis.” 

“This was the beginning of a friendship between the Kiwanis Club of Hamburg and Jeff,” Keller says. 

The friendship between the club and the café grew in January. Because of its location in a city park where business often hinges on the weather, Jeff’s Cheesecake usually closes for a “winter break.” Keller proposed that the Kiwanians take over the space to run a mulled wine stand, and Alpert responded with what Keller calls his “typical reaction: ‘Of course, for a good cause, always.’” 

The stand was a success, serving as a perfect opportunity to raise funds for local children’s programs and spread the word about Kiwanis in the community. 

“Peter now has a set of keys to the café and has become part of our café family. And through him, Kiwanis,” Alpert says. “With the current state of the world as it is, we are happy to do our part to help children who are in need in any way we can. I’m sure this is only the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.” 

In fact, the Kiwanis Club of Hamburg and Jeff’s Cheesecake already have their next joint event planned: a jam session for the club and Alpert’s jazz trio. 

Who would have thought that an American fulfilling his dream of selling delicious cheesecake in Germany and a German helping kids in his community through a U.S.-based service organization would make such great music together? But that’s the power of Kiwanis to form international bonds. 

Tell your club’s story and attract new members

Tell your club’s story and attract new members

Use a showcase exhibit at your next event to spotlight your club’s service and fellowship opportunities.

By Julie Saetre

Is your club planning to host or attend a community event soon? Make the most of it with a showcase exhibit. Whether you’re staffing a fundraising booth, hosting a 5K or holding a club open house, a display is an ideal vehicle to get more people interested in your club. Use these showcase ideas as inspiration: 

  • Picture the possibilities. Select 10 to 15 photos (depending on the size of your space and the expected crowd level). Include shots of service projects, fundraising events and fellowship activities. Enlarge the photos for more impact and consider adding captions or brief descriptions. Choose your images carefully: Focus on children being helped or having fun (and make sure you have photo releases signed by parents or guardians), members working together and other action shots. Find more tips for getting great shots on page 7 of the Kiwanis Tips & Tools guide. 
  • Show and tell. Include items from past and present projects, gatherings and accomplishments. Examples: a T-shirt from a recent walk-a-thon or race your club sponsored, an invitation to an upcoming fundraiser, a letter of appreciation from a local official or a beneficiary of a service project. 
  • Power up. Prepare a PowerPoint or similar presentation of your club’s greatest hits. Keep each slide simple and easy to read, with one key highlight or statistic per slide. Intersperse your text slides with colorful photos (similar to the ones suggested in the first bullet point) and contact information for your club. Be sure to include slides that invite new members to join your club! 

Suggest taking time at a club meeting to brainstorm on how to best highlight your club. Your showcase exhibit should serve as a conversation starter with future members — so make sure current members are ready to share their own Kiwanis stories! 

Use your club’s social media effectively 

Use your club’s social media effectively 

Here are five tips for preventing people from simply scrolling past your posts.

By Tony Knoderer

If you’ve ever spent time scrolling on social media, you might have noticed that you stop when you’re convinced to stop. Something catches your eye.  

For your Kiwanis club’s social media accounts, the key is getting — and then keeping — people’s attention. Of course, your club has a dual audience: the current members you want to keep engaged and potential members (pretty much everyone else) for whom your account is a club showcase. 

Here are five ways to get more people to stop scrolling when they see your club’s posts: 

  • Use videos and photos. And make them engaging! For example, focus on the kids your club is serving, not checks or items you’re donating.  
  • Write concisely. Narrow your focus to what matters. Posts between 100-140 characters get more attention, and people like and share what’s inspirational, entertaining or useful.  
  • Make it understandable. Avoid confusing people with terms like SLP or ICON — stuff that non-Kiwanians (and some Kiwanians) aren’t familiar with — or with typos or broken links. Proofread! 
  • Have a clear call to action. What do you want the user to do after seeing your post? Tell them, and they’re more likely to do it.  
  • Post consistently. A steady stream of activity makes it clear that your club is active and impactful.  

If you want more details about these tips — and a few more tips to boot — check out our Facebook 101 flyer. And don’t forget the social media assets we make available online, free of charge. These downloadable assets are a great resource for clubs and districts that want to add fun and color to their posts!