From Poway to Portland: SW Kiwanis leader hopes to build on 2019 growth
Joyce Handa knew when she moved to Portland from Poway, California, in September 2018 that the first thing she would do is find the nearest chapter of Kiwanis. Not only did she track down the Kiwanis Club of SW Hills one year ago, she became president and started making aggressive plans to attract new members.
She's got her work cut out for her.
Members of the "small but mighty" local chapter are a regular contributing presence in Multnomah Village. They host the Multnomah Days pancake breakfast at the Lucky Lab, bring Santa to the same venue in December, hand out candy on Halloween and coordinate student-run service clubs at Wilson and Lake Oswego high schools.
Not bad for the fewer than two dozen volunteers who currently make up the ranks of the only Kiwanis chapter in Southwest Portland.
Handa's resolution for 2020 is to convince potential Kiwanians to come to one dinner meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at Otto & Anita's European Restaurant at 3025 S.W. Canby in Multnomah Village.
"Being a newbie to Portland, I have discovered business owners within Multnomah Village are very, very generous when it comes to supporting their local communities. Additionally, parents with college-bound students want to instill the importance of helping others with meaningful service projects," she wrote in an email to the SW Connection.
Beginning this year, she'll eliminate multiple meetings each month and concentrate on that second Tuesday get together. "We are actively seeking new members. Millennials are busy establishing their careers yet want to help make the world a better place. By minimizing the frequency of our meetings, we can spend more time volunteering in our communities on meaningful projects, in lieu of attending meetings.
"The potential for growth in membership is yet untapped," Handa wrote.
Founded in Detroit in 1915, Kiwanis International began as a fraternal organization for businessmen wanting to "network," though they didn't call it that then. Five years later, the emphasis shifted to public service, especially where the needs of children were involved. Less than a year after VJ Day and the end of World War II, the SW Hills chapter was started. Women were first admitted in 1987 when Kiwanis International dropped its male-only policy days after the Supreme Court ruled that Rotary International could not discriminate on the basis of gender. There are an estimated 600,000 Kiwanians worldwide.
The three largest international service clubs are Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary, which is the oldest and largest service organization.
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