What does the Kiwanis Club of Weston do?

Kiwanis Club of Weston members Dan Lerner, Luke Lerner, Barbara Gross and Cheryl Thompson took part in a food drive, one of the club’s many service projects.

Kiwanis Club of Weston members Dan Lerner, Luke Lerner, Barbara Gross and Cheryl Thompson took part in a food drive, one of the club’s many service projects.

A recent survey conducted by the Kiwanis Club of Weston reveals that many people in town have heard of them, but not many know what they do.

Glenn Van Deusen, the club’s president, initiated an online survey in March to get a “read” on the perception of the club from the citizens of Weston.

“I wanted to find out what people thought of the Kiwanis Club, and where we might be falling short. I’m halfway through my one-year term as club president and I wanted to set a benchmark for other presidents to see what we have to leverage and what we need to fix,” he said.

The survey was sent to a number of local groups in the community and took about 15 minutes to answer online. The survey got 221 responses. “It was anonymous so we could get candid feedback,” Van Deusen said.

One of the things Van Deusen learned from the survey is that the majority of respondents did not know the club’s general purpose or mission. 53% said they were “not sure;” 38% said “community service” and just 9% gave the correct answer — “children.”

“The Kiwanis Club is dedicated to serving the needs of children in Weston, Fairfield County and around the world,” Van Deusen said.

The club accomplishes this goal through a combination of community service and philanthropy, supporting worthy causes in Weston and surrounding areas. Since 2000, the Kiwanis Club of Weston has donated more than $725,000 to help children.

Recent donations by the club’s charitable foundation include $3,000 for Homes with Hope’s youth education initiative; $5,000 to the Child and Family Guidance Center in Bridgeport to refurbish its clinic reception area; $1,250 to Aspetuck Rugby Club to purchase portable rugby goal posts; and up to $1,000 in matching funds for Clothes to Kids of Fairfield County for a bathing suit drive for boys and girls.

The club has also undertaken a substantial project to construct a playground at the Cesar A. Batalla School in Bridgeport in memory of Victoria McGrath of Weston, who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing and later died in a car accident.

The club’s foundation recognizes the youth of Weston each year through a number of service awards and scholarships.

Events

The survey also revealed that most respondents did not know the club sponsors a number of events including the Reservoir Run, Memorial Day Fair food booth, Green-up Day, First Night, Homes for the Brave, Ronald McDonald House dinners, food drives, Homes with Hope Community Kitchen, Whittingham Cancer Center Walk and Sally’s Run, flu shots, blood drives, and the annual Onion Barn wreath.

“We clearly need to do a better job getting the word out about the things we do,” Van Deusen said.

One way to spread the word is increasing the club’s membership. The club is not politically affiliated or religiously affiliated and welcomes both men and women. The club currently has 120 adult members and 15 active committees.

The club meets on Saturday mornings from 8:30 to 10 at Norfield Parish Hall which includes breakfast and a variety of speakers, which have included local actors, authors, and financial professionals.

“We’d really love people to come to one of our meetings on Saturday to learn more about the club. We welcome new members,” Van Deusen said.

Youth are also welcome in the Kiwanis family. The Key Club at Weston High School is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. “We are also looking to put together a Builder’s Club at the middle school,” Van Deusen said.

In addition to the residential survey, Van Deusen also conducted an internal survey asking 48 members their thoughts about the club. “All this information will be very helpful as the Kiwanis Club moves into the future,” Van Deusen said.

To learn more about the Kiwanis Club of Weston visit westonkiwanis.org.

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