The Kiwanis Club of Sudbury is best known for the annual music and dance festivals it hosts each spring. Thousands of aspiring musicians and dancers have participated in the competitions that fuel their interest in the performing arts.
In addition to the festivals, the Kiwanians support more than a dozen other projects.
Last year, the club provided $105,515 in cash or donated volunteer hours to good causes, says president Richard Arcand. This is an impressive record for a club with just 21 members.
"We are a modest club. We are not always in the media," says Arcand. "Every penny we raise, we give away."
Arcand volunteered at the dance festival, and then joined the club enticed by its slogan, Serving the Children of the World. He says he loves the camaraderie and even enjoys working at the fundraising bingos at Boardwalk Bingo that are so vital to cash flow.
The Kiwanis Club of Sudbury opens its heart and bank account to the Aktion Club, a service group for adults living with disabilities; Terrific Kids, a program held at six schools that awards students and promotes self-esteem; the Salvation Army's women's shelter; and the Staples School Bus Program that collects supplies for area schools.
The Sudbury club also supports several International Kiwanis initiatives such as Sleeping Children of the World, which provides bedding to children in developing countries, and The Eliminate Project to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.
The Kiwanis Festivals for music and dance get some assistance from the city and arts grants but they are primarily operated with club funds and an army of volunteers.
The music festival, which started in 1945, and the dance festival, which is celebrating its 32nd year, are often the first opportunities for young people to perform in front of an audience. Many who made their debut at the festival are now professional artists.
Each March some 800 students participate in the music festival. About 600 students compete in the dance festival that is held in April.
Charlene Biggs, a music educator, says, "I have been impressed by the level of dedication shown by a small group of volunteers working to better the lives of children in our community."
Allen S. Browne and Joseph C. Prance started the Kiwanis Club for young professional bussinessmen in 1915 in Detroit, Mich.
It became international with the organization of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton in 1916. Kiwanis is adapted from the Indian phrase "NunKeewan-is," which translates as "We trade." The phrase also can be translated as "We have a good time; we make noise."
"We have so much fun at meetings," says Arcand. The Sudbury club meets twice a month at its offices above Gloria's Restaurant and new members are welcome.
The Kiwanis Club of Sudbury was established in 1945. Veterans such as Wally Cook, Arnel Michel, Jack Wyman, Viato Kaltianen and Gordon Annis have been members for more than 50 years.
It's the Kiwanis Club of Sudbury's turn to take a bow. It is being inducted into the Community Builders Hall of Fame for almost seven decades of caring and commitment to this community.
"I am thrilled to be a part of this moment in time when a humble group of people I am pleased to call friends, simply doing what they believe in, is being recognized for the example they set in our city," says Heather Parker, who is the co-ordinator of the Kiwanis Festival.