DANVILLE, Virginia – The Kiwanis Club of Danville celebrated 100 years of community service in the River City with a ceremony Thursday night at Danville Golf Club.
The Kiwanis Club of Danville was founded on June 21, 1921, just six years after Kiwanis International was founded in Detroit.
“One hundred years is certainly a milestone to celebrate, cherish and honor,” said Lee Vogler, Danville Councilor and President-elect of the Danville Kiwanis Club. “You think of all the changes that our city has gone through in 100 years – through great depressions, through the renaissance, through wars, through hardship, through a recession – and now we are experiencing an upswing in our city again. “
Vogler explained: “The Kiwanis Club was there for all of this and was firmly established in this community.”
Kiwanis Division 15 Lt. Gov. Don Witt, who oversees the Kiwanis Clubs in Danville, Bassett, Martinsville, Roanoke Metro, and Lynchburg Metro, echoed Vogler’s words of rebirth in Danville and the role the Kiwanis Club played in that rebirth.
“When Danville lost a lot of its big businesses, etc., this club trudged through and stuck with it,” said Witt. “I think that has to be applauded. I see a lot of persistence in what you are doing now that Danville is actually reviving. We are seeing a lot of exciting things in Danville and that’s why I see” a lot of optimism in this club and a lot of optimism in the club City itself. “
Witt’s is one of 17 divisions of Kiwanis clubs, represented in more than 80 nations and geographic areas around the world.
“I think this division really shines and does a great job,” said Witt to the eager ballroom on Thursday evening. “I always enjoy my visits to Danville. You are a very welcoming club and you are also a very giving club. I look forward to working with you for the next 100 years.”
Danville Kiwanis Club President John Wilt said that on the bicentenary of 2121, Danville Kiwanians “will look back on tonight and be amazed at what the club has accomplished in the first century.”
Danville Kiwanis Club President John Wilt (left) and Danville Science Center Executive Director Adam Goebel (right) enjoy Wednesday’s Star Tribune at the Thursday night centenary at Danville Golf Club.
Wilt said future Kiwanians are sure to be impressed with Camp Kiwanis for disadvantaged youth, summer picnics for youth at the Hughes Memorial Home, celebrations of World War II veterans, fundraising from Boy Scouts, George Washington High School Key Club, George Washington Honorary Graduates, and Galileo Magnet High school and scholarships for students from Danville Community College and Averett University.
“Above all, they will get a feel for how seriously we take the Indian word ‘Kiwanis’, which translates as ‘we build’,” said Wilt. “Undoubtedly, this recognition will lead them into the third century with satisfaction from our past and hope for the future.”
Governor Dennis Baugh oversees the Kiwanis Capital District, which includes clubs in Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, and most recently West Virginia.
Governor Baugh was in Danville Thursday night.
“I’ve been to a lot of clubs and I think the amazing achievement is the number of presidents you still have who are members of your club,” said Baugh. “Often times, presidents hold their terms, stick with them, and go. This club should be very proud to have 28 past presidents who are still members of this club.”
Among these are former President E. Budge Kent Jr., who served as President from 1974 to 1975 and boasts 53 years of perfect attendance, and Dr. Harry Kolendrianos, who was president from 1982 to 1983 with 52 years of perfect attendance.
Danville Kiwanian Dr. Bert Osborne also claims to have 51 years of perfect participation. Osborne, Kent and Kolendrianos are three of eleven members of the club’s Centennial Celebration Committee.
Baugh also noted that three Danville Kiwanis Club secretaries, James T. Catlin Jr., Everett L. Motley, and Dr. Jack Irby “Jay” Hayes Jr., who have held the club for 86 of the club’s 100 years.
Catlin served 42 years from 1934 to 1973, Motley served 17 years from 1973 to 1990, and Hayes, who holds dual roles as the Danville Kiwanis historian, served 25 years since 1996 and remains active.
The Danville Kiwanis Club has only allowed women to become members since 1987, but has elected nine female presidents since 1995, including three consecutive female presidents from 2000 to 2003.
Vogler concluded his remarks with the following words:
“I can’t imagine what our city would be like without the Danville Kiwanis Club,” said Vogler. “I’m very excited about the next 100 years and what this club will do in this community.”
The Danville Kiwanis Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month during the club year, which begins October 1 and ends September 30.
Meetings begin with the president ringing the Kiwanis bell, followed by a greeting from the president, a group singing of “My Country Tis of Thee,” the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, and an invocation. After dinner, club members discuss fundraising projects and hear a keynote speaker.
Kiwanis members conduct more than 150,000 service projects worldwide, devote more than 6 million hours of service, and raise nearly $ 100 million annually for communities, families, and projects.