About 60 people turned out at the Cumberland Inn Thursday afternoon to help the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club celebrate its 35th anniversary.
“This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the 35 years we have been in existence here,” said current Williamsburg Kiwanis Club President Alvin Sharpe.
Chuck Fletcher, Kiwanis Governor for the Kentucky-Tennessee District, noted that is amazing to come to a place like Williamsburg that has such “excitement.”
“When you see excitement taking place. It gives you more excitement to do more and more for your community,” Fletcher said. “Thank you for what you do in your community. It is very important that we work with the community and network with the community to work together.”
Fletcher added that the Kentucky-Tennessee Kiwanis District is number one in the nation in club growth and he credited people like Sharpe, who are bringing in new people.
“I am challenging everyone of you all to bring one new member in,” Fletcher said.
The Williamsburg Kiwanis Club has gotten 29 new members since Sharpe took over as president in October.
Fletcher noted that for every one person a club brings in, you touch the lives of 206 people, many of whom are young people.
The Williamsburg Kiwanis Club was chartered on June 4, 1981, and received a sponsorship from the Corbin Kiwanis Club.
The first president was Gorman Berry Croley and the first secretary/treasurer was Michael Colegrove, who is the only remaining charter member of the club, who is still active.
Colegrove noted that the true strength of Kiwanis is the uniqueness of each club and that no two Kiwanis clubs look the same.
Some clubs are very traditional with weekly meetings and a strong sense of history while other clubs don’t meet at all and instead hold meetings online only coming together for service projects, Colegrove said.
“Flexibility is the key to a successful club and the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club has a history of flexibility. During the 35 year history of the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club much has been achieved,” Colegrove said.
“This club has served as a lighthouse to the community of Williamsburg. While other service clubs have flourished for a short period of time, Kiwanis has endured and is now stronger than ever. The current leadership has positioned the club for a bright future.”
Kiwanis International was a male-only organization until 1987 when the international by-laws were amended to permit women as members.
The Williamsburg Kiwanis Club was the first club in the Kentucky-Tennessee district to install a female member when Barbara Neubert joined and later became the first elected female club president in the Kentucky-Tennessee district.
Since that time, the club has had several other female members, including two other female presidents, Virginia Combs during the 2011-2012 fiscal year and Susan Stephens during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Combs, who recently served as Lt. Governor for the Kiwanis Kentucky-Tennessee District, spoke during Thursday’s celebration.
She noted that Sharpe, who is the Lt. Governor Elect for the Kentucky-Tennessee Kiwanis District, has been slated to speak for eight minutes about club growth at the Kiwanis International Convention, which is scheduled for June 23-26 in Toronto, Canada.
Heart and soul
Dave Bergman, a former Williamsburg Kiwanis Club President and one of the organizers of Thursday’s anniversary celebration, noted that Kiwanis is the “heart and soul” of most communities in the world.
“We are passionate about what we do. Folks, we don’t just sit back and do nothing,” Bergman said.
Bergman noted that the Williamsburg club has donated $25,000 towards three parks in Williamsburg over the last 10 years due to its fundraising efforts.
The club annually gives a scholarship award to an outstanding student at Williamsburg and Whitley County High Schools. The Williamsburg award was named the Henry L. “Babe” Barton Award following Barton’s death.
The Whitley County award is named the Dr. Ralph Denham Award.
The club annually sponsors the Kiwanis-Dr. Harold Mauney 5K Run-Walk, The Kiwanis Cruise for Kids motorcycle ride, and the National Day of Prayer Breakfast.
The club also annually supports several projects and causes with the proceeds from its events, including the
Southeast Kentucky Fine Arts Series, the Williamsburg Independent School District Family Resource Center, the Whitley County Public Library, Whitley County 4-H, American Relay for Life, the Kentucky-Tennessee Border Bowl, in addition to several other local projects.
After 35 years, the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club is currently thriving. It recently surpassed 50 dues paying members.