Kiwanis International seeks members for new Valley club

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Somewhere on a road leading into Stillwater is a Kiwanis Club sign. At least that’s what Bruce Klair was told.

"Someone drove in town and said they saw a Kiwanis sign," he said.

If Klair is successful in his recruiting efforts, there could be several signs in the St. Croix Valley promoting a new Stillwater-area Kiwanis Club.

Klair, the director of new club building for the Minnesota-Dakotas Kiwanis District, is doing a site survey and visiting a variety of leaders to gauge interest in organizing a Valley Kiwanis Club.

"We could certainly support a Kiwanis Club here," he said. "There’s a lot of people excited about having the Kiwanis in town."

The international organization was founded in 1915 and clubs have currently organized more than 150,000 service projects. Kiwanis International also offers leadership programs through Builders Clubs in grade schools, Key Clubs in high schools and Circle K in colleges.

"The need for a service-oriented Kiwanis Club in the area was really highlighted by our site survey," Klair said. "The results showed that there is a need for a wide variety of service projects ranging from assisting with children’s programs in the library to adopting parks. Yes, money is needed, but hands are needed more."

Klair said Kiwanis interest in a Valley club was sparked when a Kiwanis member moved to Stillwater to open a business and learned the area did not have a Kiwanis Club. Klair’s effort now focuses on finding enough people interested in Kiwanis to form a local club.

"What we need is 15 members to charter a club," he said. "We have resources here now. It’s (reaction) been really good. Everybody has been enthusiastic."

Once enough members are signed up, Klair said a Valley Kiwanis Club would then be sponsored and mentored by one of the more than 20 Twin Cities Kiwanis Clubs.

"There will be a Kiwanis Club sponsoring this (club) for a couple of years," he said. "There’s a lot of Kiwanis Clubs out there."

Klair said Kiwanis Club membership costs $120 per year, with $60 going to the national office, $30 to the district and the rest to club functions. However, he adds that Kiwanis International is giving charter members of the proposed Valley club a break on the fee.

"To join the charter club, we’re asking for $60 until October 2013," he said.

Klair said members could join as individuals or as part of a corporate membership. He adds that once the club is organized, members decide the day, time and location of meetings and their service projects. One meeting option for clubs is a "3-2-1" program where club members have three service projects, two social gatherings and one business meeting a month, according to Klair.

Klair expects that it will take several months for the district office to set up a local Kiwanis chapter.

"This will take about two to three months. We don’t know how many people we can recruit," he said.

But Klair said the Kiwanis recruiting effort includes not only Stillwater, but also Bayport and Oak Park Heights.

"I’m not suggesting it’s going to be a Stillwater Kiwanis Club," he said. "It’s going to be a Stillwater-area Kiwanis Club."