2015 marks a year of big milestones for the Kiwanis Club of San Marcos (KCSM). It was the 100th anniversary of Kiwanis International and the 40th anniversary of the San Marcos club. On Dec. 6, the entire community is invited to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of San Marcos Holiday Parade. For local Kiwanians, though, some things remain the same no matter what year it is. They’re dedicated to making a difference for local children, local seniors, and the community as a whole. Join our conversation with KCSM President Terri Williams to learn more about the club’s efforts to expand literacy, leadership, and philanthropy here in 92078.
Q&A with Kiwanis Club of San Marcos President Terri Williams
For those who might not know, what is a Kiwanis Club? What does the name mean?
Kiwanis is an international service organization dedicated to serving the children of the world. Each club within the organization is chartered, and its membership consists of business professionals, philanthropists, humanitarians, students, and retired persons.
The name “Kiwanis” was coined from an expression in an American Indian language of the Detroit area, “Nunc Kee-wanis,” which means, “we trade” or “we share our talents.” The motto of Kiwanis International is “We build.” What that means is we build community, we sponsor youth to build the leaders of tomorrow, and we sponsor Aktion Club to engage adults with special needs. In every instance, Kiwanians build.
Can you tell us a bit about the origin of Kiwanis?
The first Kiwanis club was organized in Detroit, MI on Jan. 21, 1915. A year later the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was chartered, and Kiwanis International grew rapidly into a leading service club in these two founding nations. In 1962 worldwide expansion was approved, and today Kiwanis clubs are active in every part of the world.
Kiwanis clubs located in 80 nations help their communities in countless ways. Each community’s needs are different, so each Kiwanis club is different. By working together members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed, and thrive, great things happen.
Service footprint: Service is at the heart of every Kiwanis club, no matter where in the world it’s located. Members stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise nearly U.S. $100 million every year for communities, families, and projects.
A family of servant leaders: Kiwanis clubs focus on changing the world by serving children, one child and one community at a time. To do this many clubs also sponsor a Service Leadership Program (SLP) – K-Kids for primary school children; Builders Clubs for adolescents; Key Clubs for teens; CKI clubs for university students; and Aktion Clubs for adults living with disabilities. This allows Kiwanis clubs to reach more people and have a greater service impact on their communities.
Traditional and not: No two Kiwanis clubs look exactly the same. Each member’s and community’s needs are different, and each club should look different. Some clubs are very traditional, with weekly meetings and a strong sense of history. Other clubs don’t meet at all, and instead hold meetings online and only come together for service projects. Newer clubs may follow the 3-2-1 concept: three hours of service, two hours of social activity, and a one-hour meeting each month. Clubs should reflect their communities and their members, and should work to meet their needs. Flexibility is key to a successful club.
Fellowship and fun: Kiwanis members don’t just do service – they have fun. Members make new friends by being part of a club where they attend meetings and participate in social events. Kiwanis clubs also provide excellent networking opportunities for professionals. Members meet new people from all over their region and the world through service projects, fundraising, and by attending district and Kiwanis International conventions.
“The opportunity to engage across my community with others of like mind and spirit was all it took for me to attend a meeting and then commit to joining.”
What is the club’s mission?
Our mission is similar to that of Kiwanis International: serving the children of San Marcos.
Can you tell us about the history behind Kiwanis Club of San Marcos? Who were the founders of the local chapter, and what was their inspiration?
The Kiwanis Club of San Marcos was chartered on May 24, 1976 by our neighbor club, Lake San Marcos Kiwanis. We are one of 19 clubs in North San Diego County belonging to Division 37 of the CAL-NEV-HA District of Kiwanis International.
The Kiwanis Club of San Marcos is a snapshot of our community. The men and women in our club range in age from 18 to 85-plus years and are residents or business people from all walks of life. This diversity is unified by the belief that our children, our seniors, and our community benefit from the efforts of a dedicated group of caring and involved volunteers.
We are a hands-on club whose members enjoy the tremendous satisfaction of knowing we are making a positive difference in our community every day! While our focus is our local community, we also participate in international projects with other Kiwanis clubs.
How has the club changed over the years?
Initially, our club was comprised of men only. Kiwanis did not allow women to become members until 1987, yet Key Clubs allowed female youth. I was president of the San Marcos High School Key Club in 1979-1980. Besides gender integration, our Kiwanis Club is one of the most diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, education, careers, geography, and personality. We have the distinction of having a member who is younger than the Circle K members we sponsor.
What communities does Kiwanis Club of San Marcos work with? What are the most gratifying aspects of working with those communities?
For a small club we remain highly active across the community. Our club sponsors Boy Scout Troop 662. We operate Captain Book, a literacy program that provides books to kindergarten classrooms in the district – as well as our resident pirate. We seeded the SMUSD Orchestral Music Program. We are also regular contributors to Operation America Cares.
How did you first become involved with Kiwanis?
I was sponsored into the Kiwanis Club of Greater San Marcos via Betty Parker, past Lt. Governor. As a colleague in an organization supporting people with special needs, Betty saw the volunteer spirit and servant leadership in me that made me ideal for this organization. What appealed to me was the notion of service as a family – Kiwanians become extended family members supporting each other in good times and hard times.
The opportunity to engage across my community with others of like mind and spirit was all it took for me to attend a meeting and then commit to joining. I did investigate the other service club opportunities available across San Marcos and after visiting each, decided this group consisted of “my people.” I am honored to be associated with this altruistic group of community members.
What is your current role within the club? What are your duties in that role?
My current role is president, for the second time. This is not unusual in a small club such as ours. Multiple members have stepped up to lead multiple times, and you will find our core group has committed over time.
At-A-Glance | President
Name: Terri Williams
Community: San Marcos
Education: Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration, Master’s of Business Administration, and Doctor of Management/Organizational Leadership
Family: Single parent of a 20-year-old Kiwanian
Interests: Horseback riding and competition, hiking, reading everything, and activism
Most memorable Kiwanis moment: Every year, the club adopts a family at the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos. The first year we had such a large table of presents that when the family entered, the mom started crying. She could not get out a full sentence, yet the one thing we each heard over and over was, “thank you.” Realizing there are so many families in our community who do not possess the basics (refrigerator, warm clothes, new shoes and coats, and holiday dinner) has ensured that each year I find a way to contribute meaningfully.
Can you tell us a bit about the other current officers, and any other key players in the club?
I’m a fundraising consultant specializing in grants research, writing, and administration, and I also serve as vice president of the San Marcos Community Foundation. Vice President Victor Banuelos is the owner of Centric Auto and will be our 2016-2017 president. Secretary Neill Kovrig works in higher education and is a history expert. Treasurer Kate Kovrig works with WD-40 Company and is a tireless ambassador for the children of our community. Immediate Past President Steve Kildoo has been a longtime leader in the community, heading up multiple nonprofit and for-profit ventures.
Board Member Clarke Vollbrecht, Ed.D. serves as spiritual advisor and is a retired educator who is also a volunteer officer in the City of Carlsbad. Board Member Glen Winn, President of Condor-Avsec also serves on the budget committee for San Marcos. Board Member Lynn Murphy retired after 25 years of nonprofit leadership and continues leading our Relay for Life efforts along with Kate Kovrig. Board Member and Interclub Chair Luci Rowe audits our books and makes sure we are fiscally responsible. City of San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond remains a club member and continues to serve as a valued speaker for special guest days.
What types of philanthropic activities is Kiwanis Club of San Marcos involved with?
Our club is extremely philanthropic. We work with the Boys & Girls Club and adopt a family every Christmas, giving needed items and special items to make the kiddos happy. We host a team for Relay for Life with Lynn Murphy consistently being one of the top fundraisers in the City for this event. We hosted a fund after the 2014 Cocos wildfire. We conduct Captain Book, providing reading books to San Marcos elementary school kindergarten classrooms – as well as Captain Book in his pirate attire.
Every Thanksgiving as a club, we prepare a full turkey dinner for the homeless youth at StandUp4Kids. We partnered with the San Marcos Sheriff’s Station to conduct KidzWatch Academy. We partner with TERI’s Country School hosting Kiwanis Kountry Kids for children with special needs. We also fundraise tirelessly for the parade, Flag Day, and any special needs that arise during the year.
Do you have any upcoming projects or fundraisers that the community should be aware of?
The Kiwanis Club of San Marcos is involved across the community and our three top projects are the Holiday Parade, Flag Day, and our Annual Bowling Tournament. Both the Holiday Parade and Flag Day are events we conduct annually. The Bowling Tournament is our signature fundraiser and we hope to grow it over the next year by engaging restaurants and retailers across the community to sponsor, provide gift cards, and join the club. Captain Book is our literacy program: Glen Winn, our very own Captain Book, and his shipmate Carrie Clevers deliver books to kindergarten classrooms in San Marcos. They provide a book to each child to engage them in reading, learning, and exploration.
What youth clubs does Kiwanis Club of San Marcos sponsor, and how do you support them?
The KCSM sponsors the Key Club at High Tech High. It is the oldest and largest service program for high school students. It is a student-led organization that teaches leadership through service to others. Members of the Kiwanis International family, Key Club members build themselves as they build their schools and communities.
The Palomar College Circle K was chartered in 2013-2014 and Terri remains the advisor. Our first president of Circle K, Zach Manlapid, is now the Division Lt. Governor – we grow leaders well. Current President Annamae Langdon has capably stepped into the role and continues to lead their 13 civic activities each month.
We support them through financial contributions, advising, and participating in events for both our club and theirs.
“…When you do volunteer work, you get to multiply your efforts by the number of like-minded people who are joining you to get a job done. Many hands make light work–and fun work, too.”
How has Kiwanis Club of San Marcos celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Kiwanis, the 40th Anniversary of the San Marcos Club, and/or the 20th Anniversary of the Parade?
We celebrate in many ways: special events, social meetings, monthly service projects. Kiwanis forms a family – when one is in need, everyone else steps up. At our Annual Officer Transition meeting, special gifts and recognition are given. This year I am trying something new. Kiwanians are the jewels of our community, so everytime I recognize a Club member going over and above the call I present them with a gemstone. At the end of the year, whoever has the most stones will get a piece of jewelry designed to commemorate their being Kiwanian of the Year.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for the club?
Short-term goals of the KCSM is to grow our membership so we can expand our impact across the community; raise funds to support literacy and other projects for children and seniors in San Marcos; and to leave a legacy of community service.
Interests are as varied as our membership – so an ongoing goal is to find new and engaging areas in which we can support San Marcos.
How many members does your club currently have?
Current membership is 23 committed individuals.
When and where does the club meet? Can you describe a typical meeting?
We meet every Friday morning at 7:15 a.m. at The Broken Yolk, with the exception of the third Friday of each month when we have an evening social meeting and a Saturday service project.
A typical meeting begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation followed by guest recognition, interclub introductions, and regular business. Steve Hall described regular meetings as “very lively and informative. It is a special time to make social connections that are focused on helping others instead of worrying about getting business or closing a deal. We generally cover a tremendous amount of information, which not only includes the activities our club is involved with but also other clubs in our area and the SLPs that we support.”
Does Kiwanis host any social activities for members? What have been some of your favorite social events?
Immediate Past President Steve Kildoo resurrected the monthly social meetings. The third Friday of the month we convene at a local restaurant to enjoy libations and food amid the camaraderie of our adopted Kiwanis family.
How would someone join the Kiwanis Club?
Members must be proposed and approved by the Board of Directors. See our website for more information.
What’s the most exciting aspect of being a Kiwanian?
Lynn Murphy described Kiwanis excitement as, “The most exciting aspect of being a Kiwanian is that when you do volunteer work, you get to multiply your efforts by the number of like-minded people who are joining you to get a job done. Many hands make light work – and fun work, too.”