In some ways, what’s happening in Glendale now started in Geneva in 2011. Members of the Glendale, California, Kiwanis club attended the Kiwanis International convention, where the fundraising campaign for The Eliminate Project officially launched.
Like so many attendees, the Glendale Kiwanians were impressed by what they saw—and they were moved to participate.
“A number of club officers went to Geneva and saw the presentations and attended the gala dinner,” says Susan Dell, club president. “There were some interesting conversations at the dinner table. By the time we got back home, we had decided we would be involved.”
Ultimately, one of the world’s most generous Kiwanis clubs became the first 100K Club in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District.
Global cause, local inspiration
Big things happen when the Glendale Kiwanis club’s 208 members get involved. One of the club’s signature events is the Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash, or KIDS, an annual “duck race” that features thousands of rubber ducks, lots of water and nearly US$80,000 of fundraising.
“We basically build our own lake,” Susan says. “We start before it’s light, get set up by 10 a.m. and do seven or eight races. It’s wet and silly and it raises a lot of money.”
The lake is technically two large ponds with a “river” running between them. For US$5 each, Glendale community members “adopt” the ducks—last year there were nearly 18,000 of them—and the races’ winners receive cash prizes. The rest of the funds go to community initiatives, nonprofits who partner with the club for the event and other nonprofits chosen by the Kiwanians.
The club’s power also goes beyond Glendale. For instance, the members were enthusiastic fundraisers for Kiwanis International’s global campaign to virtually eliminate iodine deficiency disorders. Glendale Kiwanians have also raised more than US$10,000 more than 10 times in the past decade—for causes ranging from earthquake aid in Pakistan to emergency relief in Japan.
The Eliminate Project is another opportunity to support a global cause. And it’s a good fit locally. In fact, the club reflects the community’s ethnic and cultural variety—and its connections to the cause of maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination.
“It’s a very diverse group,” Susan says. “We even have members from countries affected by MNT. The head of our campaign committee, Adel Luzuriaga, is from the Philippines. It means a lot to her. The community gives us a good reason to get behind the campaign.”
The Eliminate Project has also served as a reminder of how important female Kiwanians are, says Vic Legerton, club secretary. “Our fundraising success has increased due to women’s membership,” he adds. “That’s probably made the most significant impact in terms of our club’s giving.”
Starting big and fast
Now the club’s fundraising power is being applied to The Eliminate Project. When club leaders returned from Geneva, they hit the ground running. By the beginning of 2012, the club had:
- Formed a major donor subcommittee, headed by Immediate Past President Bruce Hinckley, that inspires people to earn Zeller Fellowships and offers matching funds for up to 30 Zellers.
- Pledged to match the gifts of its sponsored K-Kids club.
- Started working with three local hospitals on programs that educate community members about MNT and how they can help. One of those hospitals has an international donors program that can help create campaign gifts.
- Started putting together a local poker tournament to raise money.
Even for clubs without the Glendale club’s size and 90-year history, effort and teamwork can achieve surprising results. “Sometimes it just takes a little stretching to get out of the shell and see what you can accomplish,” Vic says.
“In Geneva,” Susan adds, “I was talking with [Division 3 Lieutenant Governor] Cathy Keen, who’s a Glendale Kiwanis past president. We looked at each other and said, ‘We can do this.’ And if we’re going to set an example, we’re going to set the best one we can.”
Photo (top): The Glendale, California, Kiwanis Club always makes a big impression. In 2010, their Kiwanis One Day project resulted in a community garden that won their hometown two national awards.
Photo (below): The Glendale club’s Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash raises thousands of dollars for local charities every year.