originally published pre-COVID
Phoenix is home to many service organizations where volunteers meet regularly to perform charitable works. Some notable service clubs include the Lions, Rotary, and the Kiwanis Club.
Service organizations perform charitable works that help fill gaps where government and the private industry can’t or don’t. It’s not just the charitable work and fundraising that make them special, but also the relationships built within them.
There are more than 20 Kiwanis Clubs in the Valley, and I’ve been a proud member of the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee since 2004.
Andi Pettijohn has spent decades with the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee and took a few minutes of her time to answer some of your questions.
What is a Kiwanis Club?
AP: A Kiwanis Club is a group of volunteers gathered under the umbrella of Kiwanis International who share an interest in helping others in the community who are less fortunate than they are.
Kiwanians primarily help children, but not exclusively.Andi Pettyjohn
What is a Kiwanis?
AP: By definition, Kiwanis is a society of business and professional people formed to maintain commercial ethics and as a social and charitable organization.
Is it like Toastmasters?
AP: I can’t answer this from firsthand experience, but I’m sure Toastmasters share the common goal of being a better public speaker while helping others in that process. Much like Kiwanis, while they are meeting their goals, they also form friendships and strong bonds with fellow members.
What is Kiwanis Key Club?
AP: Key Clubs are high school clubs sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club.
Key Club members are high school students organized to learn leadership skills through service and volunteerism in their schools and communities.
What is a Kiwanis Park?
AP: A Kiwanis Park is a park that was originally funded by donations from a Kiwanis Club and Kiwanis received naming rights. Across the country, there are parks, camps, baseball fields, etc. that have been at least partially funded by Kiwanis Clubs.
What is Circle K?
AP: Circle K is an international collegiate service organization that is a service leadership program of Kiwanis International. It promotes service, leadership, and fellowship for the student members. Circle K Clubs are sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club.
What is a Kiwanis Scholarship?
AP: Kiwanis International and local Kiwanis Clubs offer many different scholarships. These scholarships usually are not based on just on academic achievements, but rather by school leadership abilities and/or service to the community.
What is Kiwanis International?
AP: Kiwanis International is a global community of clubs, members and partners dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time.
There are Kiwanis Clubs in over 80 countries and geographic areas. Communities have different needs and Kiwanis empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of children. These include fighting hunger, improving literacy, building confidence, offering guidance and building leadership skills.
Kiwanis members hold fundraisers and Kiwanis clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year. Local clubs look out for our communities, while the international organization takes on large-scale projects, such as fighting disease and poverty. #KidsNeedKiwanis
What is the Kiwanis International Convention?
AP: The Kiwanis International Convention is an annual opportunity for Kiwanis members worldwide to gather to share experiences, accomplishments and gather education about ways to further serve their communities.
Why the Kiwanis Club?
AP: For over 25 years, I have enjoyed the fellowship & fun of being a member of the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee. At the same time, I’m very proud of our accomplishments in helping to make our community better.
Since we primarily focus on helping kids, our goal is to encourage and help children in our community turn into respectable adults. When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things can happen.
As a Kiwanis member, I share in doing great things in our community and I have fun doing it!
When I first moved to Phoenix I didn’t have family or friends here. Being active in my community in California, I knew I wanted to be active in Phoenix. I read an ad for the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee in our local newspaper and paid them a visit. 15 years later, I’m still a member of the organization and have developed great lifelong relationships.
Kiwanis Friends for Life
When I reflect on my time with Kiwanis, I think of fellow members who became my friends, especially the ones who have passed away recently: Joe Utrera and Don Schneider. Joe was a proud officer for the Salvation Army Ray Kroc Center in south Phoenix and the happiest soul. Pastor Don was a staple in Ahwatukee. He was the retired Pastor of Mountain View Lutheran Church and the founder of the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee. It brought me great joy to see both men along with some of the old guard that are still around like Duane Brickner and Bill Clark.
Duane, a retired teacher from our Community College District, took me to softball games at South Mountain Community College. He introduced me to department heads at SMCC, and years later I went on to teach there. Bill was an educator and former principal who was very helpful during my time as a School Board member. He was also my sponsor to Kiwanis in 2004. To say these folks had an impact on my family and my career is an understatement.
Throw in lifelong friends like Easter Parade Boss Mike Schmitt, Mike Maloney, Scott Ryan, Linda Jochim, Kevin Ryan, Bob Anderson, Andrea Chisolm, Carmen Paiz and Kiwanis momma bear Andi Pettyjohn.
Kiwanis Club Contributions
Our Kiwanis Club has had an incredible impact on our community through the Reading is Fundamental program. We’ve also made financial contributions of over $30,000 to the Ahwatukee Foothills YMCA.
And then, of course, there’s the Kiwanis Easter Parade and Spring Fling–only the largest Easter Parade in Arizona!
You’ll also always see Kiwanis at the Festival of Lights volunteering to raise money and tearing down the lights in January along Chandler Boulevard.
The Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee has many other smaller projects that you may not have heard of but are certainly impactful to the lives of the children they serve.
Service organizations in our community do so much more than charitable works–they change lives.
For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. Gal 5:13