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The nonprofit service organization is rebooting in the city of Wilsonville after a hiatus.

After hitting a decline, and eventually dissolving due to a lack of participation, the Kiwanis International club is set to reboot in Wilsonville.

Kiwanis is an international service club which was founded with a focus towards youth engagement and growth through community service and leadership projects.

With children having coped with fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, Val Arbacauskas, who has helped open local Kiwanis clubs through the Pacific Northwest, believes the services Kiwanis provides are more imperative than ever.

"We're trying to help come in and kind of put some boots on the ground and start connecting kids and getting them back in the mainstream of things," she said. COURTESY PHOTO - Members of the Key Club, pictured here, play a significant role with the Kiwanis.

While she wasn't a part of the former Wilsonville club, Arbacauskas opened several clubs in the Vancouver, Washington area. The potential for the Wilsonville reboot excited her.

"Wilsonville is a passionate community," she said. "It's a fun community. It's a well-connected community. We want to serve children and help get back into that community and give the residents an opportunity or a way of showing their passion."

Arbacauskas said she and fellow members identified that Wilsonville needed programs that provide social interaction. She believes connections have started to weaken amongst youth due to screens and digital technology.

"We try to find what the needs are in a community and see where we can maybe fill some holes or complement what other people are doing," Arbacauskas said.

Kiwanis International provides many geographically-based programs. This includes a formal attire exchange program where kids from any school district can come to a location and drop off a prom dress or a formal tuxedo, or pick one up and take it home for free. There are educational leadership and volunteer programs for students of all age groups, and Kiwanis also builds playgrounds where they're needed.

Key Club, a high school offering, is the largest program. Recently, individuals involved around the country have collected money for organizations and other countries to drill wells for clean water, and are now working with food banks and pantries to keep those full for people who need assistance.

Key Club students can continue similar work through Circle K, the collegiate equivalent of Key Club.

The People with Special Needs program allows those with disabilities to get involved as well.

"A lot of times when a person has a disability, they receive a lot of services, but they also can give a lot to others and serve other people," Arbacauskas said.

Currently, the Kiwanis Club of Wilsonville has 15 members. Arbacauskas said they are hoping to induct at least 10 more before officially starting up again.

While there is no physical location for the club, it is holding a meeting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the Wilsonville Public Library. To learn more about Kiwanis, visit the website.

Through the website, individuals can find a place to serve based on their interests and location. Students wanting to join can register for programs through their school.

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