This year marks 100 years of "serving the children of the world" for the Alexandria Noontime Kiwanis Club.
"Kiwanis is an international organization that does a lot for kids," said Club President Jillian Reiner. "Alexandria is a very family-focused area, and our club has provided a lot of great opportunities for families within the community."
As is the case with organizations throughout the country, Kiwanis had a tough few years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Reiner, to make up for the tough times, the club's focus will be growing its membership numbers and encouraging people interested in joining to stop by and see what the club is all about.
The club meets every Tuesday — except the third Tuesday of the month — at noon in the Broadway Ballroom.
The club's motto is "serving the children of the world." With 22 club members, Kiwanis has lived up to its motto by holding various activities and fundraisers to benefit the Alexandria community and children.
Kiwanis gives away books and reads to students in District 206, cleans ditches along South McKay Avenue, co-hosts the 5K and 10K Awake the Grapes vineyard run, helps arrange the annual Bike Rodeo for bicycle safety, and hosts craft fairs and other activities.
Last year, the club organized a triathlon at Brophy Park with hopes, this year, to add a kids event to the race to get children outdoors and active. The club also donated a significant amount of money to Brophy Park and paid for the zipline featured at the Brophy playground — the club's most recent accomplishment.
"One of the things I enjoy the most is reading to the kids. We really get to interact with them; we read to them, they read to us. I think it is one f the neatest things we do as a club," said Reiner.
Bryan Balcome joined the club back in 2008 and served as president from 2011 to 2013. He said he joined because he was new to the community, and with a young family involved in many school activities, "serving the children of the world" was a natural fit for him. His proudest accomplishment for the club was providing the zipline at Brophy Park.
"I have had the opportunity to meet great people in our community on a different level that I would never have known without Kiwanis," said Balcome. "It is a great team of people working together to make a positive impact on our community wherever we can. We very carefully determine how we can impact the most children through our fundraising efforts."
On an international level, the Kiwanis club partnered with UNICEF to reduce iodine deficiency in 1994 and most recently prevent neonatal tetanus in 2020.