City manager Virginia Barney told city council Jan. 19 that the city expects to formally rename Northwest Park in honor of the Northwest Kiwanis.

City manager Virginia Barney told city council Jan. 19 that the city expects to formally rename Northwest Park in honor of the Northwest Kiwanis.

"This does not require council action, it's more informational," Barney said, noting that during the spring the city would host a naming ceremony.

Council member and past Kiwanis president Erik Yassenoff said Kiwanis activity has been consistent over many years and remains very strong today.

"Kiwanis is donating $100,000 to the historic barn project at Sunny95 Park," Yassenoff said. "We felt that it was an appropriate way to recognize the work Kiwanis has done throughout the community, really decades of work that the organization has done."

Parks director Tim Moloney said he was surprised at the nature of some of the work done by the organization.

"What brought it to my attention was, they donated the first medic (emergency ambulance) for the city of Upper Arlington," Moloney said.

Current Northwest Kiwanis President Craig Jensen said the group actively reaches out to city government and other institutional players in the community to see where the group can be useful.

"It's like so many things, there was a need and we were in a position to help," he said. "We try routinely, depending on funding, to ask the administrative people, if there is stuff that's in your budget that you would really like to have but you just can't fit it in, especially in recent years there hasn't been so much funding.

"That's a hallmark (of) our charter to help communities and the children in our communities."

Among current work is sponsorship of a youth soccer program that serves about 1,500 kids every year.

"They provide a program that my staff could not provide," Moloney said, noting that it requires not only coordinating so many children, but also working with more than 100 coaches and also coordinating with parents and guardians. "It's far larger than we could accommodate with the kind of expertise they bring to it."

"We have 35 years of youth soccer in our service area of Grandview, Upper Arlington and Marble Cliff," Jensen said. "We're in our second and third generation; people who have been in our program are bringing in their children and grandchildren."

Construction of shelter houses is also a significant effort, right down to project management.

"When Northwest showed a need for restrooms and a shelter house, they hired a contractor, they supervised construction, they built the shelter house. In a sense they took care of everything," Moloney said.

Jensen said Kiwanis membership remains strong, but that they do work to make sure they stay current.

"We think we have benefits, we get out into the community," he said. "It's a good draw, a good vehicle for helping people invest their time and effort.

"There's nothing quite like getting dirty, whether it's planting flower bulbs or building shelter houses or park benches," Jensen said. "We work in Camp Wyandotte in southern Ohio, building new cots to replace their World War II surplus cots. It's just fun doing stuff together."

Jensen said Kiwanis is looking to expand into the high school, too.

"We have Key Clubs, the high school equivalent of the adult clubs," he said. "We have one at Grandview Heights, and we'll be reaching out to Upper Arlington schools to see if we can make that happen too. The Key Clubs are recognized by colleges as high quality activities that the schools like to see."

Maloney said the list of Kiwanis activities is lengthy, including day camps, special support for disabled students to integrate into summer camp, field trips, blood pressure monitoring at the senior center, programs to assist sufferers of dementia.

"Things like this the Kiwanis Club has done over the years is worthy of recognition," he said.