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Kiwanis to celebrate 100 years in Roswell

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Kiwanians are pictured with Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington at their weekly meeting at Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen at 2103 N. Main St. The local club will be turning 100 early next year. (Submitted Photo)

Roswell’s Kiwanis Club will be celebrating a century of supporting the community’s youth in February 2021.

About 37 members are involved in the local club of Kiwanis International and meet at Los Cerritos Mexican Restaurant at 2103 N. Main St. every Tuesday, at noon.

Club President Hannah Robertson and Treasurer Doug Austin are seeking input from community members who may have articles, photos and stories about Kiwanis over the last 100 years.

Kiwanis International began in Michigan in 1915 and therefore turned 100 in 2015.

“It has such deep, deep roots,” Robertson, a member for four years, said. “If you think 100 years, Roswell wasn’t even that old and so for them to start a club when Roswell was only so young, and be able to maintain that and carry it on and build on it — I think it’s amazing. And we have a job to do to keep it going, and keep it strong, and keep giving back to the community like they envisioned.”

“But yet, we’re not stuck in their vision of what it should have been 50 years ago,” Austin continued, “which a lot of those clubs kind of disintegrate because they get stuck in whatever the vision is.”

“We’re going to have a big celebration for our 100th birthday,” Robertson said. “So there’s a committee that’s working on an idea of something really big in order to hit our 100th birthday and present something to the community, something that will serve all of the children.

“It’ll be all-inclusive to serve all the children of our community — something that’s never been done in southeast New Mexico, or most of New Mexico at all. So it’s going to be a pretty big undertaking, so it will be a year and a half, two years, three years in the making, but that’s what we’re gearing up towards at this point.”

Kiwanians are known for their largest fundraiser, the annual pancake breakfast. Robertson said about 1,300 people are fed at that event.

Robertson quoted the motto of Kiwanis: “Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.”

“We’ve done a number this year — of little smaller things — everything from helping out Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the Boys and Girls Club to just different organizations that really work with kids,” Austin said.

Robertson said the club has grown by 10% over the last year and more new members who “want to serve the community and serve children” are welcome.

“Usually those civic groups kind of go after the retired guys that have nothing to do now and the place that we’re growing is the young professionals,” Austin said. “That’s really been kind of fun and they brought a whole new energy and new ideas on fundraising …”

Austin, who has been a member for 18 years, estimates that the club brings in about around $10,000 to $15,000 to the community annually.

“We turn around and give it all away,” Robertson said.

“And that’s our goal,” Austin added. “Whatever we give, none of it goes anywhere else. It just goes straight back into our community.”

“And it all stays in our community,” Robertson said.

Supporting education, with a recent focus on science, technology, engineering and math activities, is also a goal of the local Kiwanians. Kiwanis contributed to RISD’s first year implementing the SystemsGo rocketry program at both high schools.

More than 800 dictionaries were given out to third-graders, fourth-graders earn prizes for Bring Up Grades (or Kiwanis’ BUG program) and they contributed to Mesa Middle School best-behavior award.

“… A kid will say … or ‘We’ve never had a dictionary in our house,’ or “I’ve never had a pencil box,’” Austin said. “And it’s kind of astounding to us who raised our kids already …”

Offshoots of Kiwanis — called Key Club for high school students and Circle K Club for college students, offered at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell for the first time — allow students to experience being a Kiwanian while in school.

Club sponsors Kimberly Madrid and Amy Everett said the clubs at Roswell High School and Goddard High School have 20 members each.

Robertson said the high schools often “out-do” the adult club with fundraising and Austin said the school clubs are “huge in community service.”

Providing a whole Christmas experience — from a meal to presents delivered by Santa Claus — for two different families over the last two years was a highlight that Robertson and Austin acknowledged and plan to continue for the upcoming holiday season.

Kiwanis also hosts an All Civic Club luncheon inviting all civic groups to be honored on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which Mayor Dennis Kintigh proclaimed to be All Civics Day.

To learn more about or stay current with Kiwanis, the club has a Facebook page, Kiwanis Club Roswell NM, and a new website kiwanisclubroswellnm.com.

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.