Kiwanis readies for 90th anniversary

POULSBO — Nine decades of service will be celebrated by the Kiwanis International organization this week.

And though the Poulsbo Kiwanis club is much younger, it will be helping blow out the candles for its parent organization just the same.

Friday morning, Poulsbo Kiwanis will be gathering friends, family, members past and present and local dignitaries for a 90th birthday celebration honoring Kiwanis International. The worldwide organization boasts more than 600,000 members in more than 80 countries who invest a total of seven million hours and $100 million back into their communities each year.

Poulsbo Kiwanis president-elect Angie Sell said she hopes the local celebration will draw a big crowd.

“It’s an open event for the community and a good opportunity to hear about what we do and a chance to help us celebrate being one of the oldest service clubs,” she said.

The Poulsbo Kiwanis will turn 29 in April and currently has 25 active members. Many Poulsbo Kiwanians are 70 or older and have been involved in the club 15 years or more.

“For my age group to be able to interact with these guys on a weekly basis is just phenomenal,” said Sell, one of the club’s younger members. “I call it my Friday breakfast with my grandpas.”

One of those veteran Kiwanians is Roscoe Heins, who served as the club’s first president in its inaugural year of 1976. He is also the only charter member remaining in the club.

Heins said that the Poulsbo Kiwanis started as an offshoot of the East Bremerton club. As a practicing dentist in Poulsbo and a prominent business man, Heins said he was approached about joining the new group and was immediately interested.

“I wanted to be in a service club,” he said of what got him into the organization and what has kept him there more than 28 years. “I play a lot of golf but I don’t want to spend all my time doing it — that’s not achievement. Service clubs give you a chance to do something in your community.”

“We do give money but our biggest accomplishment is putting in the effort,” Sell added.

Not long after founding the Poulsbo club, members also cooked up one of their most famous projects — roast beef sandwiches at Viking Fest. Heins said member Dan Shovlin had belonged to a Kiwanis club in Kirkland, which had been involved in barbecue fund-raisers. The Poulsbo Kiwanians borrowed equipment from Kirkland the first few years and the treat that’s as much a tradition as Viking Fest itself was born.

“It just got better and better every year,” Heins commented. “But we had a pretty rinky-dink outfit to start with.”

Nearly 10 years after being chartered by East Bremerton, the Poulsbo Kiwanians had the chance to reciprocate the favor by helping found the Kingston Kiwanis. The two North End clubs have since sponsored the Key Club at North Kitsap High School and the Builders Club at Kingston Junior High.

The Poulsbo Kiwanis, like all other Kiwanis chapters, takes part in the Kiwanis International’s philanthropic project of Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD), which raises money to provide iodine for more than 1.5 billion people who lack the mineral in their diets. Iodine deficiency is the world’s leading preventable cause of mental retardation. To date, Kiwanis International has raised more the $76 million for the ongoing project, of which the Poulsbo club has contributed $18,000.

“Hundreds of millions of kids don’t have proper iodine but with what we’ve done, millions have been helped,” Heins said. “But there’s still millions remaining.”

Another mission the Poulsbo Kiwanis takes from Kiwanis International is an emphasis on children ages birth to 5, especially focusing on education and literacy. Local projects have included sponsoring “Love and Logic” parenting classes, participating in a pilot reading program at Suquamish elementary, purchasing books for local classrooms and creating the Kitsap Reads campaign.

“Kiwanis calls (children) our number one priority,” Sells said. “But like any club, we do what needs to be done in the community.”

Other Poulsbo Kiwanis projects over the years have included bike rodeos, drives for local food banks, creation and upkeep of Betty Iverson-Kiwanis Park, labor and financial contributions to Habitat for Humanity, upkeep of a portion of State Highway 305 and projects for Martha & Mary, including purchasing beds and assisting in the current bus fund-raiser.

Besides the club, Heins also started a Poulsbo Kiwanis Foundation 18 years ago with a donation of stock worth about $3,200. Today, that foundation is worth about $30,000 and funds a variety of projects within the community such as donating automated hospital beds to Martha & Mary and uniforms to the North Kitsap High School band.

And with 90 birthday candles to blow out Friday, Sell said the chance to celebrate Kiwanis’ past will also be a great time to start looking toward the future.

“It’s so exciting,” she said. “We’re expanding and re-growing and bringing on new members. It’s been an incredible experience.”


Kiwanis International 90th Anniversary Celebration

7 a.m. Jan. 21, Mitzel’s in Poulsbo Village

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