The first Kiwanis Club was formed in Detroit, Michigan on January 21,1915.
Kiwanis derived its name from an old Otchipew Indian Tribe word, Nun Kee Wan ee, meaning "we enjoy trading." Then by contraction, it was changed to Kiwanis. Originally, the motto was "We trade," but it was changed to "We Build". Presently our mission is "To Serve the Children of the World", Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.
Currently there are around 8,000 clubs with more than 260,000 adult members and 320,000 youth members.
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 began forming in the fall of 1919, formally organized March 10 and officially chartered May 27, 1920 with 105 charter members. Charles C. Chadbourn was the first president, Louis J. Poisson, Sr., vice-president, J. C. Hobbs, secretary, and J. Haughton James, treasurer.
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. Kiwanis sponsored the Brigade exclusively for the first thirteen years. Since 1921 the Club has contributed over $748,000 to the Brigade Boys and Girls Club as it is presently known.
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, J. T.Hoggard High School 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.
The beneficiaries of our fund-raising efforts are the Brigade Boys and Girls Club; UNCW and CFCC scholarship students; Teen Court scholarship students; the Kiwanis International Foundation, the Carolinas District and Wilmington Kiwanis Foundations; Boys and Girls Homes of NC; the Kiwanis Miracle Playground at Olsen Park and many others. Our service projects include: Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, Cribs for Kids, Kiwanis One Day, Lunch and Learn at Alderman School and the Readership Program at the BB&G Club,
As you can see, we are dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.