service clubs

This Moose Isn’t Named Bullwinkle.


This is the tenth in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve. How did it all start? Again, the explanation is not so simple.

The Moose I am referring to is the Loyal Order of Moose. It all began on April 12th in 1888 when Dr. Henry Wilson founded the very first Moose Lodge in Louisville, Kentucky “to serve a modest goal of offering men an opportunity to gather socially, to care for one another’s needs and celebrate life together.” On the Moose International website quote the old saying “A burden heavy to one is borne lightly by many” and they say “that is the core of the Moose organization and what makes us unique in our lodges, local communities and charitable “cities” that we support.”

Now Moose International has a combined membership of over 1 million members in more than 1,500 communities, covering all 50 states in the US, 4 Canadian Provinces, along with Great Britain and Bermuda.

Mooseheart City
Moose Heart City | image by Moose International
Aerial View Of Moosehaven | image Moose International

The Moose care for children and teens in need at Mooseheart Child City And School, a 1,000-acre campus, located 40 miles west of Chicago and care for senior Moose members at Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, Florida. The organization contributes between $75 to $100 million worth of community service which includes monetary donations, volunteer hours worked, and miles driven annually.

Tommy Moose Program
Tommy Moose Program | image by Moose International

Another Moose program is Tommy Moose which aids in helping children overcome fears and anxiety during times of stress. The program features plush Tommy Moose dolls that are presented to children in various traumatic situations. Moose also support national charities such as Special Olympics North America, Salvation Army, Safe Surfin’ USA Foundation, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Quoting their website: ” The Moose is about celebrating life together, serving those in need within our community, supporting our children at Mooseheart and standing by our members at Moosehaven.”

My thanks to local Moose Lodge member Tom Asa for giving me the details of what is done locally by The Loyal Order of Moose. He explained to me that unlike many service club organizations the Moose organization doesn’t really have big fundraisers. They get their funds from donations by their members and the profits from renting out their lodge facilities to various groups for gatherings like banquets and parties.

One fact I didn’t know before talking to Tom is that Moose is divided into two chartered groups: the Moose (Men) and Women of the Moose. Locally the Women of the Moose help support The Women’s Shelter, Shelter Care, and the Relief Nursery, among others.

The Moose primarily support the Eugene Mission, Nursing School Scholarships through Lane Community College, and the Tommy Moose Program described earlier that is providing the stuffed moose characters to the Springfield Police Department to give out to children in distress situations like fire, violence, or other family issues.

Springfield K-9 Giving Demonstration |Photo by Jeanie Bewley
Springfield K-9 Giving Demonstration |Photo by Jeanie Bewley

The Springfield K-9 Unit will be visiting the Moose Lodge during the first week of February for a demonstration. At that time the Moose will be making a monetary contribution to the K-9 Unit and also will be donating 24 Tommy Moose plush characters for the police to give out to the children. They also work with the Willamette Leadership Academy.

Moose Giving Tree | Photo by Jeanie Bewley
Moose Giving Tree | Photo by Jeanie Bewley

Both the men and women of the Moose spend time working with our local Relay For Life. Every November the Moose start a giving tree. Members take a tag labeled with with a person’s age and gender. They purchase a gift and bring it back to the Lodge unwrapped or they can take an envelope for a cash donation. All donations are distributed through agencies such as Women’s Space and others. Moose members also donate blood to the Lane Blood center. As a matter of fact one member has over 250 donations of platelets used by Cancer and Leukemia patients. “Members of Moose Lodge #1726 and Women of the Moose Chapter #1440 try to assist our community in many small ways. These small steps assist in Moose International’s ‘Heart of the Community’ campaign. These include Lane Blood Center, Women’s Space, Relief Nursery, Eugene Mission, Shelter Care, Festival of Trees and others.” You can contact the Moose Lodge locally by calling: 541-746-3321.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected]

“Assistance” Is Their First Name.


This is the ninth in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve. How did it all start? Again, the explanation is not so simple.

According to their national website “Assistance League® is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization which returns over $37.7 million annually to local communities, assisting 1.4 million people. This is made possible by the 26 thousand member volunteers in 120 chapters who contribute 2.86 million service hours.” Assistance League was the first nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization in the West to recognize the potential of volunteers in helping those less fortunate to a better, more meaningful life. Today, chapters across America address the emotional and physical needs of children and adults of all ages regardless of race or creed.”

Anne Banning
Anne Banning | Photo by

Anne Banning, a prominent member of Los Angeles society, together with Ada Edwards Laughlin, founded Assistance League in the mid 1890s with a group of equally prominent women who performed local charitable works. The group responded to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and resultant fire by sewing needed clothes and collecting money to help the disaster survivors. Banning also organized and was the Director of the Los Angeles unit of the American Red Cross in 1917 when the United States entered WWI. To raise money they started the Red Cross Shop which, because of Anne’s organizational plan, became the model for Red Cross Shops nationwide. Anne along with 12 of her friends officially formed Assistance League of Southern California in 1919. In 1923 they purchased a bungalow to be their community house. Their first projects were numerous: Good Samaritan, Day Nursery, Girl’s Club, and Theatre for Children. To provide needed funds for the organization they utilized their Film Location Bureau, Attic Tearoom, Women’s Exchange, and Trousseau Shop. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that is evident in the fact that between 1920 and 1930 Assistance League® cutting edge services were copied by private and public agencies alike.

Ada Edwards Laughlin
Ada Edwards Laughlin | Photo by

Anne Banning and Ada Edwards Laughlin officially organized National Assistance League to “promote the growth of effective volunteerism through leadership training and education.” Anne knew it was important for them to serve youth, but she also saw the need for the youth to serve too. The informal girl groups consolidated in 1944. There were chapters in San Pedro, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, Pomona Valley, San Bernardino, and Santa Barbara by the time Anne and Ada retired in 1948. A very famous actress, Shirley Temple, belonged to the Beverly Hills Thrifties which supported their thrift shop. They devised guidelines for auxiliaries of members under the age of 21 and in 1961 these auxiliaries became known as “Assisteens.”

To quote Assistance League website again: “Through the gift of service to their communities, Assistance League chapters continue to fulfill Anne Banning’s philosophy of volunteer service: ‘to act as a friend at any and all times to men, women and children in need of care, guidance and assistance, spiritually, materially and physically. Today Assistance League is a national nonprofit organization that puts caring and commitment into action through community-based philanthropic programs.” Their signature national program called ” Operation School Bell®” just last year alone served 337,000 children and since 1958 it helped to get school clothes for over 3 million youngsters in need.

Assistance League of Eugene was founded in 1973 and chartered on April 27, 1978. The Eugene chapter has 248 members who serve children and adults in need. According to their local website “Assistance League members volunteered over 25,000 service hours for 2013-2014 through 7 philanthropic programs:

1) New clothes for children in need (Operation School Bell®)

2) Dental care for children in need  (Children’s Dental Center)

3) Music and fellowship with seniors (Caring and Sharing)

4) Library materials for homebound patrons (Operation Bookshelf)

5) Teddy bears for people in crisis (Operation Hug a Bear)

6) Historical museum presentations for children aged 5-12 (Operation Heritage)

7) Home supplies for families and veterans in transitional housing (Welcome Basket)”

Operation School Bell
Operation School Bell Shopping Event | Photo by Assistance League of Eugene

Let me elaborate a bit on the first program listed, Operation School Bell®, which happens annually from late September until early November. This year over 1,800 children grades K-8 will shop for new school clothes at special shopping events held at two Fred Meyer stores in Eugene. According to Jennifer McConochie, Chair for Marketing Communications Assistance League of Eugene, “Assistance League members do not determine who is eligible. Children in verified financial need are referred to the program by their relevant school personnel. Members do help out on the Shopping Event nights, checking students in, helping cashiers, and assisting parents in tallying their purchases prior to proceeding to checkout.” She told me the parents really appreciate the program and helping the children, some of whom are are getting new clothes for the first time, brings joy  to all who participate.There is some grant money to help fund Operation School Bell®, but most of the money comes from Assistance League Thrift Shop at 1149 Willamette Street.

Thrift Shop Interior
Thrift Shop Interior | Photo by Assistance League of Eugene

The Assistance League Thrift Shop receives gently used donations from the public and sells them for very reasonable prices. The public can doubly help Assistance League of Eugene’s Thrift Shop by donating items and also shopping there. The profits from the Thrift Shop are the mainstay for funding the many programs that I have listed and will help fund any future programs.

Thrift Shop Exterior
Assistance League Thrift Shop 1149 Willamette Street | Photo by Assistance League of Eugene

Please take a minute or two to look over some pictures and a couple of videos highlighting Assistance League of Eugene activities in the community.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Buffalo Isn’t Only Known For Snow and Its Wings.


This is the eighth in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve. How did it all start? Again, the explanation is not so simple.

It started about 69 miles from where I grew up in Rochester, New York. Buffalo, New York was the birthplace of Zonta International in 1919. It’s pioneering members were, according to their website, “among the first generation of college-educated women, the first generation of North American women to vote, and part of the growing, though comparatively small, legion of women entering the workforce.” Marian de Forest began her career in publishing as a reporter with the Buffalo Evening News followed by the Buffalo Commercial. She was the Executive Secretary of the Board of Women Managers for the Women’s Pavilion at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. She also became a playwright in 1911 when she adapted the novel “Little Women” into a stage play which toured the US and overseas and is still being performed today.

While working in a prominent role at the Buffalo Express (her third newspaper employer) she came up with the idea of forming an organization that would bring together women who were in executive positions. November 8, 1919 was the day that Ms. de Forest founded Zonta International with a group of “like-minded” women who also held prominent positions in the professional world. Zonta was founded as a service organization of executive women whose goal was and sill is to “improve the legal, political. economic, and and professional status of women worldwide.”

Now what does “Zonta” mean? Zonta comes from a Lakota Sioux Indian word that means honest and trustworthy. Marian explained the purpose of the group this way: “Zonta stands for the for the highest standards in the business and professional world … seeks cooperation rather than competition and considers the “Golden Rule” not only good ethics, but good business.” By 1920 a confederation of of nine Zonta clubs were formed with some 600 members.

According to the Zonta International website “Zonta’s strict business and classification system required its members to be employed at least 50 percent of the time at an executive of decision-making level in a recognized business or profession. In addition, each could have just one member per professional classification, a requirement that ensured clubs would have ‘experts’ in a broad range of fields.” The organization grew into 130 clubs in 6 countries over 3 continents. It’s members were working hard to attain gender equality in opportunities for employment.

Zonta became seriously dedicated to helping women in 1923 when they supported the care of 115,000 orphan children in Smyrna, Turkey. Zonta clubs grew globally with international service projects dedicated to world peace and women’s role in making it possible. In 1938 they began the Amelia Earhart Fellowships Program named after the famous aviatrix who was a Zontian. According to Ellen Parks, their International President at the time, explained “At that time few women considered a career in aerospace engineering, yet not one voice of doubt was raised as to the success of such a scholarship.” By 1948 they established the Z Club Program which promoted youth leadership and career mentorship. Those programs are the longest running ones Zonta has to improve educational, leadership, and youth development opportunities for women all over the world.

Zonta International worked through the United Nations back in 1956 when the USSR troops marched into Hungary to provide food and shelter for the Hungarian people. Over the years Zonta has often funded UN projects through the International Service fund. Some of those funded projects, which have improved the lives of thousands of women, are the Vocational and Training Center for Women in Ramalla, Jordan; Mobile Medical Units to serve mothers and children in rural Ghana; the Young Mother’s Hostel project in Uruguay; and the Revolving Loan Fund for Village Women in the Delta and Upper Egypt.

Zonta Says No Campaign To End Violence Against Women | Image by
Zonta Says No Campaign To End Violence Against Women | Image by

“Zonta Clubs still select, fund and participate in community projects fundamental to to promoting women’s economic self-sufficiency, political equality, access to education and health care and the elimination of violence against women. Each year Zontians dedicate thousands of volunteer hours and millions of dollars to affecting these changes, while the Zonta International programs funded by the Zonta International Foundation impact these issues on a global level.”

The Zonta Club of Eugene-Springfield was founded in 1936. Currently they have 16 dedicated members. They say being a Zontian is about service, fellowship, networking, personal development and leadership opportunities for women. Through their Zonta Service Foundation they have provided grants to support many local organizations, including Looking Glass, Womenspace, Mobility International, Girl Scouts, Sponsors, and Sexual Assault Support Services.

YWPA winner
Kelsey Juliana (left) -South Eugene High School Receives Award From YWPA Chair Theya McCown| Photo by Zonta Eugene-Springfield

The Zonta Club of Eugene-Springfield awards scholarships to deserving young women each year such as the Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) award. This year the local YWPA award winner was Kelsey Juliana who also won the regional YWPA award.

Candles Sponsor
Zonta Candles Sponsor For UCSB Vigil

Their local members participated in the vigil at the UO campus to support the students at the University of California Santa Barbara because of the six dead and 13 wounded people who were shot in May near the UCSB campus by a lone gunman.

Zonta Geranium Sale
Zonta Annual Geranium Sale | Photo by Zonta Eugene-Springfield

Every year they have a Geranium sale fundraiser which also helps beautify many homes in the area.

Local Zontians organize community events to educate the public on women’s issues. During their 16 days of activism in November they held candlelight vigils to raise awareness on issues such as human trafficking, and ending violence against women. On International Women’s Day each March they organize a community forum at the Eugene Hilton Hotel which draws over 100 people. Each year the forum focuses on a different topic. As with all service club organization Zonta of Eugene-Springfield is always looking for new members.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].


Why Call It Rotary?


This is the fourth in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve. How did it all start? Again, the explanation is not so simple.

February 23, 1905 was the day Chicago attorney Paul P. Harris formed one of the first service organizations the Rotary Club of Chicago. It was set up as “a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.” How the name Rotary was chosen is quite simple. When they got started the group would rotate in which member’s office they would hold the meeting. Thus was born “Rotary.”

Rotary is proud to have three traits that have continued from the organizations beginning.

1) They are truly international with Rotary clubs on 6 continents just 16 years after their founding. Today they work together around the globe connecting in-person and digitally to help solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

2) They persevere in tough times. Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, and Japan had to disband during WWII, but many continued to meet informally, at the risk of their lives, and after the war they worked together to rebuild the clubs in those war-torn countries.

3) Their commitment to service is ongoing. In 1979 they began their fight against Polio with a project in the Philippines to immunize 6 million children from that dreaded disease. By 2012 only three countries remain polio-endemic down from 125 in 1988.

Rotary Works To Eradicate Polio | Image by
Rotary Works To Eradicate Polio | Image by

Rotary International focuses their efforts in six areas including: promoting peace, preventing diseases, providing access to clean water and sanitation, enhancing maternal and child health, improving basic education and literacy, and helping communities develop. Their main push has been to “end polio in our lifetimes.”

The Eugene Rotary Club, also known as the Rotary Club of Eugene, saw its birth on January 2. 1923 beginning with 18 charter members and added three additional members at their organizational meeting. Their charter application was filed with Rotary International on January 16,1923. The Eugene Rotary Club received their official charter from Rotary International on March 15,1923. For more than 20 years they were the only Rotary Club in Lane County. With about 300 members it currently is the largest Rotary Club in the Eugene/Springfield area. They have been busy sponsoring other clubs in the area including Springfield, Cottage Grove, Eugene Emerald, Eugene Delta, Southtowne, Eugene Mid-Valley, and Eugene Airport Rotary. The Eugene Rotary Club members are especially proud of the Eugene Rotary Scholarship Program, “a separate non-profit corporation, through which trustees receive and administer funds and other assets in the interest of scholarships to local colleges for worthy high school students.”

There are those who may know very little about the Rotary locally, but they do know them for “The Great Rotary Duck Race.” The “Race” started in 1988 when the incoming presidents of the Eugene/Springfield Rotary Clubs decided to sponsor a community-wide fundraiser that would make a difference in our communities. The idea came from a President Elect Training Seminar (PETS) and was adopted by the clubs as a way to attract attention and gain local support. The Community Substance Abuse Consortium was the beneficiary of the proceeds from the first two Rotary Duck Races. Since then the money raised has been used for intervention and prevention of child abuse in the area.

Washington/Jefferson Skate Park Beginning | Photo by Eugene Rotary
Washington/Jefferson Skate Park Beginning | Photo by Eugene Rotary

One of the Eugene Rotary’s newest projects is the “Sk8Eug” Skate Park Project that started four years ago. The Eugene Rotary joined up with the City of Eugene and the Skaters for Eugene  Skateparks. The 18,000 sq. ft. skate park facility is located in the area of the Washington-Jefferson Park covered by the I-105 Bridge. Rotary members helped raise between $50,000 and $70,000 for the project. According to the Rotary statement: “We firmly believe that redesigning and renovating the Washington/Jefferson Park into a regional destination attraction for skaters of all ages and abilities will foster civic pride and support community livability. This area of our community currently sees a high frequency of negative activity. This project and the recently completed Public Safety Strategy will provide the positive and consistent user presence to the park necessary to transform the area into a focal point for community recreation, relaxation, and interaction.” Here is a video showing the Rotary presentation concerning the Skate Park.

Washington/Jefferson Skate Park Building In Progress | Photo by Eugene Rotary
Washington/Jefferson Skate Park Building In Progress | Photo by Eugene Rotary

Groundbreaking for the project took place in August of 2013 beginning the $2.5 million project to build what could be largest covered skate park in the United States. Workers had to fell 40 trees to get the job done, but the trees are being replaced.

It’s official name is WJ Skate Park. It could end up with a sponsor name if the sponsor wants to pay the $250,000 price tag. The project is expected to be completed in May of this year. Here is a video made for the City of Eugene discussing the importance of and need for the WJ Skate Park.

Another cause that is taken up by the Eugene Rotary and Rotary International as a whole is the Rotary Peace Project. The goal is “World Peace” which is something mankind has strived for without much success. The internet has helped this project “grow legs” because it is possible to be in close contact with people all over the world who are also striving to give peace a chance. The Bill Gates Foundation has joined in their efforts to spread the word that world peace is actually possible if everyone works together. Locally they are making plans for a future Oregon Rotary Peace Center for international Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution.

These Rotarians also have a student exchange program and Ambassador Scholarship program which helps college students to become leaders in the community. The Eugene Rotary Club is continually adding new projects to keep up with the needs of our local community.


Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Most Remember The Fireworks, But What Is an Active 20-30 Club?


This is the third in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve.

Springfield Christmas Parade 2013 | Photo by Eugene Active 20-30
Springfield Christmas Parade 2013 | Photo by Eugene Active 20-30

How did it all start? Again, the explanation is not so simple. Active 20-30 International had a rather unusual start in 1922. Two young men in different states found the need for a service club for younger men. They found the other service clubs were populated by older men and their leadership was comprised of even older men. The Active International was started in Aberdeen, Washington while 20-30 International began in Sacramento, California. Both groups were charter members of the World Council of Young Men’s Service Clubs (WOCO). In 1959 Norm Morrison, President of 20-30, and Ken Helling, President of Active, wrote back and forth with each other discussing the proposal that the two pretty much identical young men’s service clubs merge into one organization. After meetings between the two groups they came up with a proposed Constitution and Resolution that was presented at both group’s conventions in 1960. The 20-30 International convention was held in Santa Cruz, California while the Active International convention was held in Calgary, Alberta Canada a month later. Both groups unanimously adopted the resolutions. Thus, the Active 20-30 was officially born on August 1, 1960. Their first official convention was held in Tucson, Arizona July 10-14 1961 when they formally approved the constitution and bylaws. They selected four major projects including Keys in the Car, Aid to Scouting, Public Speaking, and Rheumatic Fever. In 1975 the new International Charity Foundation was adopted to replace Rheumatic Fever. In 1982 the Active 20-30 United States and Canada was formed.

“The Eugene Based Active 20-30 Club was founded in 1927 and focused on serviceable citizenship in the community of Oregon’s Lane County, while improving the quality of life for special needs children.” The members of the Eugene Active 20-30 Club donate tens of thousands of hours each year in order to help raise money for the children’s charities in Lane County. The club helps the community in three ways. 1) Staff projects held by other children’s organizations to help them raise money. 2) Hands on projects where they work directly with children. 3) Staff projects put on by the club in order to raise money that is redistributed to the dozens of local charities that they help fund.

Eugene Active 20-30 Fireworks Display 2013 | Photo by Active 20-30
Eugene Active 20-30 Fireworks Display 2013 | Photo by Active 20-30

Many of us know about the Eugene Active 20-30 Club because of their spectacular fireworks displays for Freedom Festival for the Independence Day celebration.

One of the Eugene Active 20-30 Club’s most recent projects was their annual “Coats For Kids” where they collect Winter coats for needy kids. For the 2013 project they more than doubled the previous year’s collection with 1,500 coats that were distributed to the children.

The “Children’s Shopping Spree” is another event the club is proud to hold. Local children in need get to go on a shopping spree for back-to-school supplies and clothing with $100 to spend. In 2012 40 youngsters from three local non-profit agencies (Women’s Space, Birth to Three, and Candlelighters for Children with Cancer) benefitted from the project. The 2013 Children’s Shopping Spree  was sponsored by donors and participants of the Active 20-30 Putt Putt Tourney that was held in May.

Some of the other projects of the Eugene Active 20-30 Club are the Springfield Children’s Parade, Candlelighter’s Christmas Party, the Buzz Saw Ball and Auction, Children’s Charity Raffle, Parenting now flyers provided for new parents.

Active 20-30 Giving Tree | Photo by Eugene Active 20-23
Active 20-30 Giving Tree | Photo by Eugene Active 20-30

The Giving Tree, where 2,500 gifts were donated for needy kids, was a great success. The Club members also participate in the annual Christmas Tree Pick Up helping area residents properly dispose of their discarded Christmas trees. With the help of sponsors they provided 28 Christmas trees for the Pearl Buck youngsters. Another money-making project is the “Duck Pen” where the members give valet service for over 2,000 bicycle riders at the U of O home football games. With the help of sponsors they collected $12,000 for 2013. Other interesting events are their blood drive with the Lane Blood Bank and Hop Valley called “Give  Pint Get a Pint” and the “5-K On The Runway” at the Eugene Airport. Cesar E. Chavez school garden work party takes place 4-times a year as members get to dig in the dirt to help out.

Special thanks to Rogelio Cassol, current President of the Eugene Active 20-30 Club, for his assistance in researching their organization.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

What Does Kiwanis Mean Anyway?


This is the second in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve.

What does the word Kiwanis mean? It is derived from an Otchipew American Indian expression “Nunc Kee-Wanis” which according to a translator can mean “We trade,” We share our talents,” “We make a noise,” or “We meet.” The founders of Kiwanis translated it as “We build” and that became their motto until 2005 when they changed it to “Serving the children of the world.”

Kiwanis International claims a membership of nearly 600,000 adult and youth members combined. They are located in 80 countries around the world. In August 1914 two men, Alan S. Browne and Joseph C. Prance, from Detroit, Michigan started a group they first called “The Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers.” The idea was to be a fraternal club for young professional businessmen so that other men could experience new ideals in human relationships. Apparently they decided they didn’t like the short form of of the name The Supreme Lodge “BOB,” so with the help of the city’s historian they came up with the Native American name they still use today. The corporate charter is dated January 21, 1915.  A complicated dispute erupted and Alan Browne and Ottie Robinson, the club’s secretary, quit, moved to Cleveland, Ohio and started another Kiwanis Club there. They started a nursery school for underprivileged children and thus began their service to children. The Detroit Club’s president Don Johnston reorganized his group and now they had two clubs. Kiwanis International was founded in 1916 with the creation of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario Canada. At its beginning it was mainly a business networking organization and in 1919 the focus was changed to service. In the 1960s, worldwide expansion was approved and within 10 years they formed Kiwanis International-Europe which includes 11 European nations. Women were officially allowed to become Kiwanis members in 1987. There are various divisions within Kiwanis to serve many age groups. Besides the well-known Kiwanis Clubs (for the adults ) there is Circle K (Community Service and Leadership training for College students), Aktion Club (for Adults with disabilities), Key Club International (for Teens), Builders Club (for Adolescent members), and Kiwanis Kids (for youngsters in schools and community sponsored groups).

The U.S. Army is one of the three Kiwanis vision partners. This is the third year for this leadership developing project. Kiwanis has partnered with UNICEF for The Eliminate Project which is an ambitious plan to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide.

Kiwanis ELIMINATE Tetanus LOGO |
Kiwanis ELIMINATE Tetanus LOGO |

Each Kiwanis Club is different because each community’s needs are different. Members stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise $100 million every year for communities, families, and projects. The Eugene Kiwanis Club was charted on March 25,1920 just 5 years after the organization began. They claim the titles of the first service club in Eugene and the second Kiwanis club in the state of Oregon. Involvement in civic improvement began in the club’s infancy (1925) when charter member Olando Hollis became the chair of the Chamber of Commerce Airport Committee.That airport was built at 18th and Chambers. The club established a Fund for Pediatric Counseling at Sacred Heart Hospital.

Here is a bit of information I’ll bet most of you hadn’t heard before, I know I hadn’t. Eugene Kiwanis member Hugh Winder organized a male quartet in 1925 called “The SInging Kiwanians.” With their success they expanded into a double quartet which led to developing a large chorus that they called “The Eugene Gleemen.”

The club was instrumental in starting both the Oregon Asian Festival and the Asian Kite Festival back in 1985. Some club members with the backing of the club were instrumental in establishing Eugene Hearing and Speech. The Eugene Kiwanis Club is in Division 74 in Oregon consisting of 9 clubs in Lane and Douglas counties of Oregon. As I mentioned earlier, one of the purposes of this feature is to delve deeper into Kiwanis Clubs and let you know at least some of the projects they are involved in that you might not have heard about before. As with all of the service clubs I have ever heard about, Kiwanians don’t do the projects for recognition, but they perform their varied works to help make this world a better place for our children.

While interviewing Kenneth T. Nagao, club past president and very active member, I was amazed at the number of projects in which they have been and still are actively involved. Here is a partial list that I have compiled. I’ll start with a couple of projects that do not directly involve children so you can see just how all-encompassing their work is. They Eugene Kiwanis Club members participate in Food For Lane County’s Food Rescue Express where they repackage food to be distributed to needy area families and they assist at Christmas Bell Ringing for The Salvation Army. What follows is a summary of the the club’s many events and projects that directly relate to children. The Eugene club along with the others in their district sponsor the “Kiwanis Wing” at Dornbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

Kiwanis Ukes For kids | Eugene Kiwanis Photo
Kiwanis Ukes For kids | Eugene Kiwanis Photo

Some of their members participated in the “Ukes For Kids” project providing ukuleles and instruction to youngsters in the “Courageous Kids” organization, which works with children suffering the loss of a loved one, so they would appreciate and enjoy music. A special “Books For The Barrio” project collected donated books and shipped them to the Dominican Republic for distribution to needy youngsters, and they volunteer to register participants at the annual Truffle Shuffle for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lane County.

Asian Kite Festival | Eugene Kiwanis Club Photo
Asian Kite Festival | Eugene Kiwanis Club Photo

They have become well-known for their participation in the Oregon Asian Festival and the Asian Kite Festival that is held at Yujin Gakuen Elementary School in Eugene. The Kiwanians provided 150 “Helmets For Head Start” and participated in fitting them on the children. In a YCPO project “One Day at Camp Wilani they made improvements and prepared the camp for the summer.

One Day Project at Camp Wilani | Eugene Kiwanis Photo
One Day Project at Camp Wilani | Eugene Kiwanis Photo

They were instrumental in building and maintaining a new multipurpose building (center picture) at Camp Wilani also. These are not all of the projects of the Eugene Kiwanis Club, but at least you now have a better idea just how committed they are to working to improve our community and especially to help our children.

You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].


Who Are The Lions And What Do They Do?


This is the first in a series of features exploring the world of service club organizations. They all have familiar names, but do you know what they really do? The name of each service club organization may evoke a particular memory from your past that describes what you think is their main activity in the community. This series will examine aspects of these groups that may not be as well-known to all of us but are very important to the people they serve.


You might remember them selling light bulbs a long time ago.

  | Photo by Tim Chuey
Buy Light Bulbs From A Lion | Photo by Tim Chuey

Maybe you remember them selling brooms that were made by blind workers and sold to help the blind. Or maybe you remember their annual car raffle, but most remember them because they collect used eyeglasses so they can be given to those who can’t afford to pay for them. I’m referring to the Lions. Lions Clubs International is proud to claim 1.35 million members all over the world and they say that makes it the largest service club organization in the world. That tells you about their current numbers, but how did it all get started?

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Melvin Jones | Photo by

It began June 7,1917 in Chicago, Illinois when a 38-year-old businessman named Melvin Jones told members of his business club that they should reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world. Within three years Lions Clubs International was born. A major turning point in the direction the organization would take place on June 30,1925 when Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International convention in Cedar Point, Ohio. Her words say it best: “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught, no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?” Those words were so powerful that Lions Clubs International took her challenge seriously and adopted Hellen Keller’s attitude toward helping the blind and the deaf as the organization’s mission.

There are some 46,000 local Lions Clubs throughout the world. It takes quite an organization to be able to lead that many clubs as one entity but they still have local rule. Another one of the most important milestones in Lions history came in 1968 when they established the Lions Clubs International Foundation which assists Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. One example of such assistance was after the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan money was sent almost immediately to help those in need. The money was not given to governments, international agencies, or individuals but instead, as per Lions Clubs International rules, was given to local Lions Clubs. They know the local people and have “boots-on-the-ground” already. The money comes from the Lions Clubs International Foundation and from the generous donations of local clubs all over the world. In 1990 Campaign SightFirst was launched.

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LCIF-CampaignSightFirst | Photo by

It’s purpose was “to fund high quality, sustainable projects that deliver eye care services, develop infrastructure, train personnel, and/or provide rehabilitation and education in under-served communities.” The concentration was on the main causes of blindness and vision impairment including cataracts, river blindness, trachoma, uncorrected refractive error and, especially in developed nations, diabetic eye disease and glaucoma. The program was unique in that most of the funds pledged and collected came from the Lions themselves as the contributions were collected by each club and given to Lions Clubs International. It was such a success that Campaign SightFirst II was initiated a few years ago to continue the work started by the original Campaign SightFirst.

Besides the Lions Clubs International Foundation there are other regional foundations like the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) which been named one of the 100 Best Nonprofits To Work For in the small organization category in 2010, 2011, and 2013. Founded in 1959 it serves as the nonprofit arm of the Lions Clubs of Oregon. Some of the foundation’s programs include free health screenings for children and adults, providing cataract surgeries (Mission Cataract Oregon), corneal transplants, hearing aids, eyeglasses, plus vision and hearing treatments. The foundation is in partnership with more than 175 Lions  Clubs in the state of Oregon.

The Eugene Downtown Lions Club was chartered in 1924 and has built a reputation on living up to the Lions motto “We Serve.” I am partial to this particular club because I am a member, but ask any Lion in Oregon and they will say that the Eugene Downtown club is fun-loving and gets the job done while making it enjoyable for both the Lions and those who are being helped. Originally Lions was just for men and they had the Lioness Club which was their auxiliary group for women, usually the wives of the Lions. Not very long ago women started becoming Lion members and in the case of the Eugene Downtown Lions Club there have already been two female club presidents with another as 1st Vice President who should become president next year.

The following are just some of the programs of the Eugene Downtown Lions Club. Club members volunteered for work projects such as “Honor Flight” for WWII veterans, Amazon Pocket Park maintenance – mow grass, clear weeds, Delta Ponds Restoration Project- clear debris and plant trees, Food Rescue Express – repackaging food for Food For Lane County, and  the “Meals on Wheels” program- delivering meals to needy seniors. A short list of Community Service Projects includes Children’s Miracle Network/Lions Guest House- for families with longer-term patient in the hospital, Flags for First Graders, Alert Disaster Preparedness Committee, vial of life, and Peace Poster Contest for elementary school students. More well-known services include used eyeglass, hearing aid, and cell phone collection (from about 40 locations in the Eugene), and public fundraising projects like the annual Pancake Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and an annual raffle to help fund club projects.

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Eugene Downtown Lions Club Santa Breakfast poster | Photo by Tim Chuey

Now that I have mentioned it, this year’s Breakfast With Santa and Mrs. Claus is being held Saturday December 7th from 8:00 AM until Noon at St. Thomas Episcopal Fellowship Hall 1465 Coburg Road, Eugene. Kids $5 Adults $8. All are welcome and please bring the whole family.
The club has many committees that help delegate the funds we distribute. The Community Services Committee supplies grant application forms to club members to submit nominations for individuals or groups that are looking for assistance. The Environmental Services Committee oversees the Delta Ponds Restoration project. A long-time chairman of that committee, the late Frank Alderson, presented a “walking stick”  award each year to the club member who showed the most dedication to the Environmental Services Committee. He custom carved

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Mourners Brought walking sticks made by Frank Alderson to his Celebration of Life | Photo by Tim Chuey

the walking sticks himself for each recipient and also sold some as a way to earn money for Lions. The club’s Sight and Hearing Committee is charged with deciding on a case-by-case basis which people will get new eyeglasses, hearing aids, or possible cataract surgery on the basis of their personal and financial need. One of the Club’s newest innovations is providing three $1,000 scholarships for Lane Community College students in health-related fields.

Lions also have events just-for-fun for members and guests including the annual Summer picnic, an Oktoberfest celebration, the annual Officer Installation and Awards Banquet, and events like “An Evening with Abraham Lincoln” as an actor portrayed Lincoln at a press conference with the audience asking the questions.

A serious issue for the Eugene Downtown Lions Club has been the sudden loss of some of its most active members. I have been a member of the club for over twenty years and this is the first time 5 members have died within the same year. Lions and every other service club in existence have to deal with aging members and not enough younger new ones to keep the membership to levels high enough to ensure continuing the long-time legacy and good works of the Club. The membership committee is continually evaluating ways to increase the numbers. One avenue is to partner with groups like the Active-20-30 Club so their members will consider joining Lions when they pass the age allowed to be a member of their group.

Now you should have a better appreciation of who the Lions are and what they do for the people of our community, the state, the country, and the world. I personally feel that it is the service club organizations, all of them that are doing their works day-in-and-day-out, that will fill in the gaps to serve those who fall between the cracks of government and other aid programs that are out there.

If you would like more information about possibly joining one of the area clubs or otherwise helping Lions continue their work check out the Eugene Downtown Lions membership page for contact information.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].