From supporting the local community to raising funds so a sick child can get a life-saving operation. To sponsoring programs for the youth or for the elderly. Helping students shine and assisting the disabled.
These are just a few of the very many great things the people of the Kiwanis Club do. To list them all would likely fill a book.
Dr. Burnett Eglow, one of the founding members, simply puts it, “the object of being in a service club is to serve.” People in service organizations such as this one are true servants who want to volunteer their time to serve others. He says, “We are not here because we selfishly want praise. I always felt that those who simply serve to extol themselves is a sin.”
The work of the group over nearly six decades shows that they come together each month because they want to serve others. And as one of the member’s puts it they also have fun, as members also regularly gather for dinner and enjoy some social interaction as well.
On this particular Thursday evening, the group gathers around at table in the library community room. Eglow, who is serving as president for the fifth time in the nearly 60 years since he founded the group is joined by another longtime member Peter Gallo, first vice president, Barbara Smith, immediate past president, Coleen Jarvis, secretary, Maria Viducich, second vice president, and Marie Gallo, treasurer.
Among their many ongoing projects such as supporting families of children diagnosed with autism, supporting education, and assisting the disabled, the group jumps in to help when the community is in need.
In the center of the table sits a pile of 9-11 commemorative bracelets. Among the many projects the Kiwanis Club is involved in currently, they are selling the bracelets in support of the borough’s memorial fund. They are also contributing the 300 red, white and blue glowsticks which will be given out to those marching in the procession during the borough’s 9-11 memorial service.
They support the high school Key Club, collect toys for Toys for Tots, assist with the community’s Friendly Neighbors programs and even the local school system. Many years ago the Kiwanis funded the purchase of a scoreboard for the athletic field.
The group is gearing up for its annual Good Neighbors Awards next Wednesday, Sept. 7. Gallo explains this award is given to those who don’t expect to be recognized. They explained it could be the neighbor that drives someone to the grocery store or just someone who the club has seen go out of his or her way to reach out to others. The award could also go towards a business that tends to go out its way to support the community.
To support all the projects they are involved with, they conduct several fundraisers throughout the year. They are currently selling tickets for a shopping discount day at Lord & Taylor. One of the biggest fundraisers of the year is their annual pancake breakfast.
Every April in support of Autism Awareness Month, the Kiwanis Club hosts an educational seminar to help spread awareness. Year round they support Project Lifesaver for children who have been diagnosed with autism or Down syndrome. The club will fund the purchase of a wrist transmitter for a child that lives in Hasbrouck Heights. The transmitter sends out an alert signal so that the child can be located if he or she were to wander off.
Many of the projects the group takes on are ideas that members of the group have brought to the table. The BUG program, which stands for Bringing Up Grades, rewards students in grades 4 and 5 for raising one or more grades after the first marking period.
They supply funds for local children who are identified as developmentally disabled to attend local camps, and they collect cancelled stamps which are then sent to the Sons of Norway Lodge which sells them to dealers worldwide. Those sales support children who are disabled.
Lots of their work supports families as they spread awareness for the WHALE program. The acronym meaning “We Have a Little Emergency” is a child safety identification system. The program put an ID underneath a child’s car seat so emergency responders can ID the child if the parents were to become incapacitated in an accident.
The club has a long history over its 58 years. The members are already gearing up for their 60th anniversary celebration set for November 2012.
The Kiwanis Club always welcomes new members. Sadly people don’t want to volunteer their time as much as they used to. Jarvis said membership has gone down statewide.
The group currently has about 16 members. The organization was originally male-oriented but over the past 10 to 15 years women have joined. When Gallo was president, he opened the door to more women joining the group. In fact many couples take part in the club together such as Peter and Marie Gallo.
Eglow says if it wasn’t for women joining in over the past two decades, the local club may not have survived.
“We are a small group but a hard working group,” Jarvis said.