Camaraderie and service keep members coming back to Kiwanis

Preston Parker, left, is re-installed as the president of the Logan Kiwanis Club by past Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor Janet Flinders.

LOGAN – Numerous members of the Logan Kiwanis Club have been attending weekly meetings and providing service to their community for several decades. In fact, Paul Riley has been a member of the local club for over 50 years. The 92-year-old was recently recognized as the Kiwanian of the Year and said there are a couple of key reasons why he has remained a member all these years.

“I like the opportunity to serve, but I also like the people that are in it,” Riley explained. “It’s a great organization. People want to serve and I have friends there.”

The Kiwanis Club provides service in several different ways locally, including highway clean ups in Logan Canyon, supporting hygiene drives, supporting Key Clubs in the five Cache County high schools, supporting the service club at Utah State University known as Circle K, providing recognition to outstanding 5th grade students with the Hope of America award and many other projects. At the beginning of each meeting a bucket is passed from chair to chair as the club raises what is referred to as “Happy Bucks.” Each member of the club states something positive that happened to them in the past week and drops some money in the bucket before handing it to the next person. The money is collected for a different local non-profit each quarter.

The group meets every Wednesday at the Logan Golf and Country Club for lunch and a featured speaker. And that is how Glenna Markey first got involved with Kiwanis over 30 years ago. She was the director of Head Start at the time and was asked to share a presentation about children in the valley. After her presentation she was asked to join the club, and she did.

The opportunity to meet weekly with some of his friends and learn from community experts is one of the things that keeps Dave Swainston coming back after he’s been a member for nearly 25 years.

“I’ve loved the meetings. We have excellent speakers,” he explained. “I’ve met people and learned things I never would have learned on my own. It’s been a joy. The other thing that’s important to me is that camaraderie.”

Many service clubs have seen a decline in their memberships over the last decade. Logan Kiwanis Club President Preston Parker said his group has not been immune to that decline, but he recognizes the role of service clubs has evolved over time.

“A service club can be one way of networking. I think the Baby Boomers looked at it more that way, an opportunity for service but also an opportunity to bring like-minded individuals who wanted something to happen in the community through businesses and non-profits and networking. It was viewed as one of the only networking opportunities.

“Now, there are a lot of networking opportunities, and a lot more ways of connecting. When you factor in social media and the internet, it’s easy to network now, much easier than it was in decade’s past. Now I see service organizations as a way of doing face-to-face connections with those like-minded individuals. Yeah, there’s a decline in membership but not a decline in utility.”

Markey said those connections and service opportunities that the club provides have impacted the lives of her own family, particularly through the high school Key Clubs. She said it gave two granddaughters and a grandson – who were shy and struggling – confidence and leadership skills that have changed their lives.

“I think if it makes that impact in my own family,” Markey said, “I can imagine the hundreds and hundreds of children who have gone through Key Club and learned the skills that they need to be successful, be leaders and learn how to lead.”

Parker said that face-to-face connection is tremendously valuable, especially for him as a younger business owner and entrepreneur.

“There’s a lot of value in benefiting from those individuals; there may be some in their 70’s, 80’s, or even 90’s that are talking about things they did 40 or 50 years ago and how that benefited them for the following decades. Yeah, that’s very beneficial for me to learn what I should be doing at this stage in my life and in my career, learning from them and what was successful for them.”

Parker said there are various ways to be involved in a service club like Kiwanis, and it doesn’t have to be at 100% attendance at every event the club participates in or sponsors.

“Get involved and be an example in the community of giving, be an example to your children of giving. I think that just benefits everybody, currently and in future generations.”

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