ANDERSON — For more than 50 years, Charles Jones has faithfully attended the Anderson Noon Kiwanis Club. In fact, he has a perfect attendance record with the club.
This week that record will end.
“It’s sad,” Jones said. “I had friends there, and some of them I will probably not see again because that is where our circles met.”
The club, chartered on Oct. 27, 1919, has decided to disband as of Oct. 1, because of shrinking membership. At one point, the club had more than 150 members. At the final count, only about 20 people remained on the roster. This particular club is one of several Kiwanis clubs in the Anderson area.
Jim Dauss, a former treasurer for the club, said two factors hindered the club’s ability to maintain and grow membership.
“The real problem with our club was aging, and having the meetings during that noon time slot was just a tough, tough thing to do,” Dauss said.
Tim Freeman, the last president of the Noon Kiwanis, said that, in the past three years, about 13 members of the club have died.
“We took an average age one time, and it was 75,” he said. “It was an older club.”
Looking over his memorabilia from the club, Jones said it is more than just age that contributed to the clubs declining numbers — times have changed.
Each Thursday, members of the Noon Kiwanis gathered for lunch and brainstormed ways to raise money for those in need. Jones, a former president of the club, said many of the original members were business owners or those in middle to upper management working in Anderson.
“Now they are long gone,” he said. “We have had a lot of good people who have come and gone.”
Jones said General Motors strongly encouraged its employees to become active in the community and service projects. He said the club lost several members when the company left Anderson, and companies today have less affinity for the communities where they work.
“They do their job and then go home,” Jones said.
Changes to family dynamics have also impacted the time available for community involvement. Today, both husbands and wives are working, and at the end of the day they want to spend their time together, he said.
Jones plans to spend his free lunch time on Thursdays volunteering in St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital’s emergency department.
It won’t be the same, Jones admits, but he will still be able to give back to his community.
“We tried to save it,” Jones said of the Kiwanis club.
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Kiwanis History The first Kiwanis club was organized in Detroit, Mich., in 1915. A year later, the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was chartered, and Kiwanis International emerged. In 1962, worldwide expansion was approved, and today Kiwanis clubs are active in every part of the world. The club's motto is "we build." The name "Kiwanis" was coined from an expression in an American Indian language of the Detroit area, "Nunc Kee-wanis," which means, "we trade" or "we share our talents." More than 8,600 Kiwanis clubs exist with nearly 300,000 members in 89 nations and geographic areas. Membership was opened to women in 1987. There are now more than 51,000 women members. In one year, Kiwanis clubs sponsored 147,000 service projects. To do so, Kiwanians raised and spent nearly $70 million and contributed 6.2 million hours of volunteer time. Source: www.kiwanis.org