Our History

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.

The first Kiwanis Club was formed in Detroit, Michigan on January 21,1915. The name "Kiwanis" was coined from an American Indian expression "Nunc Kee-wanis", which means "we trade." In 1920 the motto of Kiwanis became "We Build." That motto remained until 2005, when members voted to change the motto to "Serving the Children of the World." 

By 1920, Kiwanis was rapidly expanding in the Southeast and the Carolinas District was officially organized January 12, 1920.  Wilmington was the ninth club organized in the Carolinas District. The Wilmington Kiwanis Club was chartered on May 27, 1920. The Club needed a major objective.  The late Wilbur R. Dosher, charter member of Kiwanis and the Old Boys Brigade which closed in 1916 due to World War I, conceived the idea for Kiwanis to reopen the old Brigade Armory and sponsor a Boys' Club.  The Kiwanis Club voted unanimously to sponsor and finance the Brigade Boys' Club, which opened July 1, 1921.  The Club sponsored the Brigade (now the Brigade Boys and Girls Club) exclusively for the first thirteen years.  Since 1921, the  Club has contributed its time, talent and treasure in support of this outstanding organization.

In 1964 the Wilmington Kiwanis Club began a scholarship program for worthy students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and later at Cape Fear Community College.  Over $202,000 of scholarship gifts have assisted deserving students.

Kiwanis International sponsors one of the largest youth groups in the nation -  Key Clubs for high school students. The Wilmington Kiwanis Club sponsors  Key Clubs at New Hanover High School and and Ashley High School.

After a six year effort by our club, the Kiwanis Miracle Playground at Olsen Park was officially opened on August 3, 2013. This special playground is reported to be the largest-all-inclusive playground in the southeastern United States. Our club raised over $80,000. By partnering with the City of Wilmington, Kiwanis, Access of Wilmington and the Miracle League, we were able to construct this unique facility for the enjoyment of all children for years to come..

Our major fund-raising activity is the Annual Kiwanis Pancake Day, the first Saturday in November since 1968.  We also conduct a Rummage Sale in March and work at the City of Wilmington concessions at sporting and entertainment events throughout the summer and fall.

As you can see, since 1920 we have been dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time. See the "What We Do" section of this website for a list of the organizations we support.