This is going to be a big year for the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica, as this is the 100th anniversary year of Kiwanis International! Kiwanis International, started in Detroit as a single club, now has over 8,000 adult clubs and 7,000 youth clubs in 80 countries collectively donating more than 18 million hours of service each year. Altogether these groups sponsor 150,000 service projects and raise over $100 million annually. These statistics are spectacular but what is most interesting are the details. For example, Kiwanis is the only service club that has a club for adults living with disabilities. With more than 12,000 members worldwide, the Aktion (pronounced “action”) Club provides adults living with disabilities an opportunity to develop leadership skills and to serve their communities. Circle K is the university level within the Kiwanis family, and the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica is extremely proud to be the sponsoring Kiwanis Club of the largest and most active club in the country, the UCLA Circle K! So far this academic year, the UCLA student members have contributed 13,000 hours of community service. In addition, the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica is thrilled to announce the chartering of a Builder’s Club of our youngest Kiwanis members at Lincoln Middle School. The students there are so excited to start supporting their community.

What does all this community service look like? Locally, the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica will again be the leading sponsor of many community events including the Bowl-A-Thon to benefit the Westside Coalition, a one-of-a-kind coalition of groups serving our homeless population, the SMPL Seuss-a-Bration where kids get to meet The Cat in the Hat while learning to love reading, the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year Award where the youth are celebrated for their achievements in the community, and the backpack and school supply giveaway at Back to School with P.A.L. And like every year, we will be giving out over $150,000 in grants and scholarships to local organizations and students.

Internationally, Kiwanis Club members have virtually eradicated iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) for 70 percent of the world’s population. The WHO describes iodine deficiency as “the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.” The prevention? Iodized salt. In the mid 1990’s, Kiwanis began raising funds to help support salt iodization, testing, and community outreach. The success of the program has been hailed by UNICEF as one of the greatest public health triumphs of the 20th century. In an attempt to exceed the achievements of the IDD program, Kiwanis International has embarked on a journey to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus from the developing parts of the world. The ELIMINATE project, in partnership with UNICEF, is providing women in rural areas and areas of conflict with the vaccination that will protect her and her future children from the horrible results of the tetanus bacteria. Tetanus is a bacteria that is introduced when the umbilical cord is cut with an infected instrument. The result is a prolonged painful death for the infant, made worse by physical contact. There is no cure. But tetanus is being eradicated; 35 countries, including Iraq, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Vietnam, have eliminated tetanus since the program started in 2011. The remaining 24 countries with tetanus, including Kenya, Pakistan and Haiti, will be added to the list of successes by the end of this year.

2015 will be a great year and we look forward to all of it!!

Find out more about the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica, or to join us for lunch, by visiting our website, www.kiwanisclubsm.org.

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