A Tri-Village-based organization dedicated to serving youths and enriching communities celebrated its 85th anniversary last month.
Since its establishment in 1928, the Northwest Kiwanis Club has taken on several worldwide health initiatives, while also supporting the needs of people living in Grandview Heights, Marble Cliff and Upper Arlington.
"I think the Tri-Village area has a lot of citizens that want to see some needs met in the community and who band together to do that," said Bill Snellgrove, a past president of the Northwest Kiwanis, a past governor of the Kiwanis Ohio District and current district chairman for growth and division secretary. "I think we've been very successful in recruiting people interested in meeting the needs of the community.
"All of that, we feel, adds to making the community a more livable place."
Currently, there are approximately 55 Northwest Kiwanis Club members who range in age from roughly 22 to 95.
Nearly 30 years ago, the club got in line with gender equality, removing the "men only" membership restriction.
Although members weren't surprised, Snellgrove said, the move significantly enhanced not only membership numbers, but the overall quality of the club.
"The Kiwanis (International) finally saw the light 26 years ago and decided to allow women to join the club," Snellgrove said. "That's one of the best decisions we ever made.
"We have some incredibly active women members."
Throughout the years, the club continually has sought to improve lives locally and abroad, and its notable contributions have included:
• Buying and donating the first dedicated emergency-medical services vehicles to Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington, respectively, in the 1940s.
• Donating resources and money to build two shelter houses at public parks in Upper Arlington, as well as one in Grandview.
• Donating $100,000 to purchase land for the C. Ray Buck Park in Grandview, as well as to build concessions facilities there.
• Establishing an annual Easter egg hunt for children and adults with developmental disabilities, spearheaded by the late Jake Will, an Upper Arlington resident and longtime Northwest Kiwanis Club member.
• Creating a youth soccer program, which has seen the participation of approximately 25,000 Tri-Village-area youths over the past four decades.
• Providing nearly $500,000 in annual college scholarships to local graduating high school seniors over the past 65 years.
• Donating $100,000 to the city of Upper Arlington to help establish the Amelita Mirolo Barn at Sunny 95 Park.
• Helping to eradicate invasive honeysuckle in Upper Arlington parks.
• Donating approximately $20,000 in international outreach resources to combat iodine deficiency disorder, a leading, preventable cause of mental retardation.
• Donating $30,000 for maternal neonatal tetanus vaccinations for women around the world.
"They've always been very generous with us," said Canaan Faulkner, public relations manager for the Grandview Heights Public Library. "Literacy has always been one of their primary missions."
According to Faulkner, the Northwest Kiwanis Club gave $13,600 to the library between 1992 and 2011.
Those resources helped fund everything from materials to improve parenting skills to the purchase of a stage for the library's Music on the Lawn program.
Faulkner also noted the club gave $3,000 in 2010 to establish an Early Literacy Station (ELS) at the library, which includes a computer work station loaded with more than 45 educational software titles for kids age 2 to 10.
"They've never hesitated to lend assistance," he said.
On Nov. 25, Upper Arlington City Council recognized the Northwest Kiwanis Club with a resolution of appreciation.
It noted, "The Kiwanis Club of Northwest Columbus has supported Upper Arlington in a variety of ways, including contributing money and helping build the Thompson Park and Northwest Kiwanis Park shelter houses, furnishing park benches at the Lane Road and Tremont parks, performing repairs/improvements to our senior center, providing monthly blood press screenings to our elderly population and providing a youth soccer league to the community."
The resolution went on to laud the club's financial contributions to playground projects at Barrington and Greensview schools in Upper Arlington.
According to Snellgrove, the club doesn't seek accolades, but does work continually to champion causes to support evolving needs. He said that work will continue as the club draws closer to its 100th anniversary.
"Our main focus is on the community and its needs," Snellgrove said. "Not exclusively, but we've been heavily focused on helping children.
"It's always been an evolutionary process on what projects we support. It's more a matter that when we see a need arise, that's when you decide to get involved in something."