It saw modest attendance at its Wednesday night information meeting, but the Elmira Kiwanis Club hopes the half dozen students who came will be the rock on which an Elmira Key Club could be built.
“I hoped there would be more. Maybe there will be more. The good news is, you’ve got very good odds of winning a Subway voucher,” said James Schwindt, division lieutenant governor of Elmira Kiwanis before the meeting.
Key Club International is a student-led subdivision of Kiwanis International, intended to bring leadership experience to high school students through charitable endeavors. Founded in 1925, it is the oldest service club for high school-aged students in North America.
Wednesday’s meeting marked the first formal attempt to start momentum for a club in Elmira. Grade 10 student Lars Chen and Grade 11 student Annu Puri, from Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute’s Key Club in Kitchener, made their pitch for the student club at the Woolwich Community Centre, which would provide a venue for the proposed club.
“It’s a student-led organization,” said Chen. “That means, we create our own projects, and we run them. Anyone in our Key Club can make their own project if they have an idea for their own project.”
“You make a lot of new friends,” said Puri. “The thing is, Key Club gives you that opportunity to network with so many different people, and build your own skills. You grow as a person, and keep growing.”
“It looks great on a job application – if you’re applying for universities, it’s great,” Puri added.
The Cameron Heights Club, which was founded three years ago, currently boasts 160 members – the largest enrolment in eastern Canada. So far, momentum has been slower in Elmira.
“Twenty-five is the minimum to charter a club and register,” said Shelley DeCoates, the Key Club advisor from Kiwanis. “You could continue to meet, but you wouldn’t be a recognized Key Club. You wouldn’t be covered by insurance. If you were out doing services, you’d have to do them under the auspices of the Kiwanis Club of Elmira. They have the liability.”
She continued, “The main reason you want to be a club is to gain the coverage of Key Club International.”
Regardless, the Key Club members remained optimistic that word of mouth could spread. “If you tell 10 people, I guarantee you, they’ll tell at least 10 more people, and then once people start generating that interest, they’ll tell even more people. Before you know it, you have 50, 60 people,” said Puri.
“We will have more of these meetings to get people interested,” said DeCoates. “Social media is another way that maybe the Elmira Key Club could reach out.”