Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Erwin club celebrates anniversaries

One of the state’s largest branches of the Kiwanis Club recently had the opportunity to showcase over 90 years of work to the community last week.
The Erwin Kiwanis Club celebrated the 100th year anniversary of Kiwanis International and its own 94th year of existence with a celebration at Erwin Town Hall on Friday, March 27.
During the evening, Kiwanis members welcomed members of the community with cake, coffee and booths set up with information on the club and slide shows of previous events from over the years.
“Kiwanis International was founded in Detroit on January, 21, 1915,” said John Bell, Erwin Kiwanis Club president. “Coincidentally, the club in Erwin was founded on the same day in 1921, six years later.”
The Kiwanis Club is responsible for raising money for children, Bell said.
“We run long programs,” he added. “In 1995, we ran an iodine deficiency program and we raised over $100 million internationally and we eliminated iodine deficiency in the world and now we’re doing an eliminate program for neonatal tetanus for young mothers and babies. It kills about 80,000 people a month and we are in the process of trying to eliminate it … we’ve raised almost $90 million and we’ve eliminated it in 36 of the 52 countries it was rampant in.”
The Erwin branch stays active locally, Bell added, supporting the YMCA, Unicoi County Little League, scholarships, bonuses for teachers and a children’s shopping tour during Christmas time.
“This year, we took 136 kids to Wal-Mart,” Bell said of the annual shopping tour. “We spent about $125 for each kid and that’s one of the biggest things we do.”
The Erwin Kiwanis Club raises money through K-Day, a program run by WEMB that donates four hours of air time while members sell advertisements, Bell said. This fundraiser typically raises $7,000 to $8,000 from local support.
“We also worked the Apple Festival,” Bell added. “We sell peanuts and that raises money for underprivileged children for shoes and clothing.”
Bell also added the Kiwanis Club raised money to build the Erwin park dedicated to handicapped children, including handicapped facilities provided for children.
“We do a lot locally and the international branches do a lot,” Bell said. “Our goal is one child at a time.”
Kiwanis member Janice Johnson has been with the program for years and she added the event was a special moment for her.
“I go back a long ways because I used to help before women went in,” she said. “I helped the trustees. I feel proud we’re doing this and I’m proud of our organization. We try to help people and our main goal is the children and we have a good president.”
Betty Stevens also talked about the active events by the clubs.
“The Kiwanis Club has been real active in the community,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of projects. We’ve had the shoe fund for over 50 years, took over the shopping tour six to eight years ago. We’re continuing to strive for our goal to help the children across the world.”
The Erwin Kiwanis Club will be hosting a pancake breakfast on Saturday, April 11, from 7 to 11:30 a.m. at the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center with tickets priced at $5.