The Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, just as Kiwanis International turns 100.
Established in 1975, the local club has worked on a wide variety of projects over the years, many of which have a focus on children.
The club originally admitted only men interested in community service, but this changed in 1989 when the first women were accepted into the club.
Kiwanis member Fay Anne de Freitas recalls, “I first joined the Kiwanis family as a ‘Kiwanianne’ in 1987. When the Kiwanis allowed the male and female clubs to be combined, we approached the Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman, who agreed, thus resulting in the members of the Kiwaniannes moving to the Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman.
“As past president of both the Kiwanianne and the Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman, I’m delighted to be a part of the great projects the club contributes to the community such as Buy A Kid Breakfast, the Bookmobile and Santa Landing.”
Kiwanis built the Lighthouse School therapy wing at the old Lighthouse School, beside the Pines. Dedicated to the late Gail Aiken, the project cost approximately $40,000 and was completed in 1987 when Edward Hessing was president.
In 1989, the Kiwanis Club’s teen nightclub project, Graffiti’s, won the prestigious Single Project Diamond Award for community service.
Forming part of the Florida District, the club produced two Lieutenant Governors – Ernest (Ernie) Foster (1986/7) and Rufus Stoy (1988/9).
Life Member and Past President Roger Bodden joined the Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman in August 1987 and has stayed active, chairing the Sponsored Youth Committee and serving on the board of directors for many years. He also served as treasurer.
Asked how he got involved in the club, he said, “I had just moved to Grand Cayman and was staying with a cousin who was a founding member; he invited me to a meeting. I immediately recognized the dedication of this group, and their friendly and welcoming approach sold me on joining. The Kiwanis’ mission of helping the children of the world, one child and one community at a time, is an important one to me.”
Recalling his favorite memories of his time in the Kiwanis, he said, “All the funds we have been able to donate to help the children of our community, from health and medical services to recreation, safety, and sports, and good citizenship. Young children are priority one for Kiwanis and I’ve been especially enthused to be a part of such an organization that provides the generous support and donations we have provided to our community.”
He noted that over the years the Kiwanis Key Clubs have had more than 2,500 members.
Mr. Bodden recalls “the fishing, golf and soccer tournaments as well as the Male Sale and trips that were made representing the club … We went to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands to sponsor a new Kiwanis Club there and once we got them meeting, we went back for their first installation dinner – back in 1991, when I was president. They then went on to sponsor a new Key Club. Through Kiwanis, I have made so many friends from all over the world.”
Kiwanis Immediate Past President for 2014-2015, Kadi Merren-Pentney, officially has been a member of Kiwanis since 2010. She said, “I became a part of the Kiwanis family in 2001 when I joined Key Club at Triple C. Key Club taught me so much about the importance of community service and truly did help shape who I am today.
“When I was Lieutenant Governor of the five Key Clubs in Cayman, the Kiwanis Club sponsored me to go to trainings in Florida where I represented Cayman and always came back with more insight on how I could improve our island. Cayman’s youth are so blessed to have community service clubs like Kiwanis that focus on helping them achieve their goals and become leaders in their community.”
Roberta Porter is one of the Kiwanis Club’s newest members, inducted just under a year ago. “I have loved every moment of it,” she said. “I remember my first time attending Bookmobile, one of our service projects. It was a day when coincidentally all the seasoned members were unable to attend and we didn’t even have the Bookmobile trailer there. Volunteers consisted of about six newly joined Kiwanians, the principal of George Town Primary, Ms. [Marie] Martin, and a bunch of boisterous kids.
“Organizing the children to get the books from the school library and actually getting the kids to sit down and read turned out to be somewhat of a pandemonium, but at the same time it was fun, fun, fun. I knew immediately I had found my niche in terms of a service activity that was just unpredictable enough to be truly enjoyable and served a crucial and meaningful role in the community.”
For the past few years, Sue Day has been “extremely proud to be a member of the amazingly dedicated Cayman Islands Kiwanis ‘family’ who have a fun and can-do attitude.”
She said, “I enjoy helping with the wide range of projects which are generously supported by the local community as they focus on children and teenagers and improving their lives in many ways. My favorite project, and the main reason why I initially became a member, is the Bookmobile as it’s wonderful to give access to books and reading to children who may not ordinarily have such access and to read with them on a one-to-one basis. It really does make a difference. The fact that 100 percent of all donations go straight to our Kiwanis projects is fantastic too.”
Current projects and fundraisers
The Kiwanis Club runs the Bookmobile at George Town Primary every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, where Kiwanians and volunteers read with the students to assist them in improving their literacy.
Through the Buy a Kid Breakfast Program, the club provides breakfast for those in need at eight schools on island. The program is funded through grocery store collections and an annual “Breakfast for Dinner” fundraiser which is held at the Marriott.
It also sponsors Key Club, which is the high school equivalent of Kiwanis at five high schools, as well as a Builders Club for primary students at St. Ignatius and Sir John A. Cumber, and a Circle K for college students at the Truman Bodden Law School. These clubs are completely student-led organizations and encourage students to start participating in community service from a young age.
At the beginning of each year, it organizes KiwaniBike, a 20-mile ride in aid of Key Clubbers’ projects and training.
The Cayman club also works with Kiwanis International in supporting the ELIMINATE Project, together with UNICEF, to fight to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, which steals the lives of one baby every 11 minutes.
Each December, Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves come around to give out presents to hundreds of children during a free day of face painting, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, a bouncing castle and a clown for the children to enjoy at the Santa Landing.
The local Kiwanis club also encourages primary school students to continue to improve on their grades with the Bring Up Grades (BUG) program at two of the primary schools on island.
In 2014, the club joined forces with the other service clubs to start an awareness campaign for what can be recycled and where in Cayman.
40th anniversary gala
On Saturday, March 21, the Kiwanis Club held a fundraising Gala at the Westin resort in support of its projects. More than $6,000 was raised. The evening was hosted by z99’s Jason Howard and musical entertainment was provided by Bona Fi
For more information on the Kiwanis Club of Cayman, email [email protected], call 925-2787 or visit www.kiwanis.ky. Submitted by the Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman