Members of the Green Valley Kiwanis Club gathered Aug. 27 at the Anthem Country Club, 1 Club Side Drive, to celebrate thegroup’s 25th anniversary.
The club received recognition from U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen.
“(The club) gives service to this community, to children, to adults, to seniors, and I thank you,” Hafen said during the ceremony. “We make a living from what we get, but we make a living from what we give, and that’s what you are doing for this community.”
Founded in September 1989, the Green Valley Kiwanis Club was formed with the help of the Kiwanis Club of the Las Vegas Strip and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Henderson, according to founding member Jeff McAllister.
The club is a division of Kiwanis International, a global service organization with about 600,000 members.
“Before we even chartered, we were out raising money for children’s charities,” McAllister said. “We were out parking cars at the county fair, and we actually built our fireworks booth and did our first firework sale in July 1989.”
In order to be chartered, the club was required to recruit 25 members, but participation dropped soon after the club became official.
“The first few years were really exciting, but there weren’t a whole lot of us,” McAllister said. “At one point, there were only about five or six members.”
Though small, the Green Valley Kiwanis Club began supporting charities such as Child Haven, the Special Olympics Nevada and the American Cancer Society.
“In the early years, we raised $25,000 to build a gazebo for residents at the New Vista Ranch, which supports adults with Down syndrome,” McAllister said. “We installed 1,500 to 2,000 feet of sprinklers and laid down the landscaping. We had a huge involvement with them.”
The organization also created Key Clubs at UNLV, Cannon Middle School, Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas and Basic, Coronado, Del Sol, Green Valley, Liberty, Sierra Vista and Silverado high schools.
The Key Clubs allow students to participate in community service projects under direction of a Kiwanis member.
“We teach these students about community service and what it’s like to give back,” said club president Larry Barnson. “They learn that by giving, it’ll always come back to them.”
With more than 30 members, the club continues to physically and financially support dozens of charities, such as Safe Nest, Toys for Tots and Positively Kids.
“We’ve learned that teenagers can’t get into homeless shelters without a parent present, so they’re forced to sleep outside,” Barnson said. “As one project, we made mats for them to sleep on so they’re off the ground. It takes about 40 to 50 hours just to weave one mat, but it’s worth it.”
The club supports organizations through private donations and fundraisers, including its annual poker tournament.
“The winner of the poker tournament gets a $10,000 seat in the final round of the World Series of Poker,” Barnson said. “Our (fundraiser) profits nearly doubled this year, so we’re working on how to improve to make next year even better.”
In its infancy, the club spent $175.73 on supported organizations. Last year, it spent more than $18,000.
“Kiwanis is an Indian word, and to us, it means, ‘Where a need is served,’ ” McAllister said. “That’s what we try to do. We try to assess the needs in the community and find a way to meet those needs.”
The Green Valley Kiwanis Club meets the at 8 a.m. first Saturday of the month and at 6:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month at the Black Mountain Grill, 11021 S. Eastern Ave.
For more information, visit greenvalleykiwanis.com.
Contact Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.