Kiwanis magazine June-July 2022

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Kiwanis M AGA Z INE






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Stan D. Soderstrom Ben Hendricks Kasey Jackson Tony Knoderer Andy Austin Julie Saetre Curtis Billue

2021–22 KIWANIS INTERNATIONAL OFFICERS PRESIDENT Peter J. Mancuso North Bellmore, New York, USA PRESIDENT-ELECT Bert West Divide, Colorado, USA IMMEDIATE Arthur N. Riley PAST PRESIDENT Westminster, Maryland, USA VICE PRESIDENT Katrina J. Baranko Albany, Georgia, USA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Stan D. Soderstrom Indianapolis, Indiana, USA TRUSTEES Gunnsteinn Björnsson, Sauðárkrókur, Iceland; Gary Cooper, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA; Kip Crain, Wooster, Ohio, USA; Chuck Fletcher, Frankfort, Kentucky, USA; Michel Fongue, Noumea, South Province, New Caledonia; Buheita Fujiwara, Kita-ku, Tokyo, Japan; Gary Graham, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; David W. Hurrelbrink, Kansas City, Kansas, USA; Linda Lawther, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA; Daniel Leikvold, Lead, South Dakota, USA; Hope Markes, Hanover, Jamaica; Michael Mulhaul, Interlaken, New Jersey, USA; Éliane Ott-Scheffer, Ohnenheim, France; Cathy Szymanski, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA 2021–22 KIWANIS CHILDREN’S FUND OFFICERS PRESIDENT Robert M. Garretson Fort Collins, Colorado, USA PRESIDENT-ELECT Filip Delanote Koksijde, Belgium IMMEDIATE Norman A. Velnes PAST PRESIDENT Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada TREASURER Amy Zimmerman Cincinnati, Ohio, USA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Stan D. Soderstrom Indianapolis, Indiana, USA CHIEF PHILANTHROPY Pam Norman OFFICER Zionsville, Indiana, USA TRUSTEES Katrina J. Baranko, Albany, Georgia, USA; Matthew Cantrall, Lakeland, Florida, USA; Juanita F. Edwards, Cherry Log, Georgia, USA; Mark G. Esposito, Sicklerville, New Jersey, USA; Lenora J. Hanna, Ashland, Nebraska, USA; Robert S. Maxwell, Topeka, Kansas, USA; Arthur N. Riley, Westminster, Maryland, USA; Armand B. St. Raymond, Birmingham, Alabama, USA; Elizabeth M. Tezza, Sullivans Island, South Carolina, USA; John Tyner II, Rockville, Maryland, USA; Francesco Valenti, Lentini, Italy; Yang Chien-Kung “C.K.,” Hsinchu City, Taiwan KIWANIS INTERNATIONAL OFFICE 3636 Woodview Trace, Indianapolis, IN 46268-3196 1-800-KIWANIS (in U.S./Canada), +1-317-875-8755 Fax: +1-317-879-0204 Email: Website: Magazine website: ADVERTISING SALES Fox Associates Inc. 116 West Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL 60654-4655 1-800-440-0231 (U.S./Canada), +1-312-644-3888 Fax: +1-312-644-8718 Email: FUTURE CONVENTIONS Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, June 8-11, 2022 Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, June 21-24, 2023 Denver, Colorado, USA, July 3-7, 2024 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, June 25-28, 2025 KIWANIS (ISSN 0162-5276) is published six times a year in January, April, August, September, October and December by Kiwanis International. Postmaster: Send address changes to Kiwanis, 3636 Woodview Trace, Indianapolis, IN 46268-3196. Periodicals postage paid at Indianapolis, IN and additional mailing offices. (CPC Pub Agreement #40030511) Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Kiwanis, 2835 Kew Drive, Windsor, ON N8T 3B7. Member’s annual subscription is US$8. Nonmembers may subscribe for US$12 per year. The information in this magazine is for illustrative and discussion purposes only. It is intended to provide general information about the subject matter covered and is provided with the understanding that Kiwanis is not rendering legal, accounting or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax or accounting obligations and requirements. Copyright ©2022 Kiwanis International


Contents JUNE/JULY 2022 • VOLUME 107, NUMBER 4



10 AIR SICK Pollution and environmental injustices are hurting — even killing — our children.

4 VOICES President’s Message; Executive Perspective

22 TRASH MASTERS A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Kiwanian starts a litter (re)movement and inspires an entire town. 26 HISTORY AND POSSIBILITY After her historic career as an astronaut, Mae Jemison will share insights past and present in Indianapolis. 30 MAKING SMALL MOMENTS BIG The road from teacher to early-childhood expert brings Rachel Giannini to the Kiwanis International convention. 34 WORKING TOGETHER WORKS A session at the Kiwanis International convention will show how club committees’ collaboration pays off.

6 NEWS Key dates in June and July; Kiwanis training event is first for Africa; Be ready with BUG and Terrific Kids; Trustee Aguilar passes away; Signature project finalists announced. 36 CLUBS IN ACTION Growing season; Boys to men; Sweet dreams.

MISSION STATEMENT The mission of Kiwanis magazine is to empower and inspire Kiwanis members to make lasting differences in the lives of children — and to share their powerful work with the world. J UN E/J U LY 2022 3

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President’s message


have set five presidential priorities for this year, the first four of which I presented in prior columns. Our fifth priority is to support the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. This should be no surprise. I’m a past president of the Children’s Fund and have seen all of its good works up close. The Children’s Fund harnesses the collective impact of Kiwanians around the world to meet children’s needs in ways that clubs and districts cannot on their own. In 2020, for example, more than 50 Children’s Fund grants helped clubs address immediate challenges due to the pandemic.


Children’s Fund grants support projects that focus on youth leadership development; education and literacy; and health and nutrition, which includes our historical initiatives in the fights against maternal and neonatal tetanus and iodine deficiency disorders. A principal focus of our grants should be on supporting Service Leadership Programs, particularly when helpful in opening a new Kiwanis club. Opening a Key Club, for instance, can be a great incentive to form a Kiwanis club to sponsor it. In fact, we should also engage Key Club and Circle K International alumni as a way

Executive perspective


ave you ever read all the Kiwanis International Bylaws? Be honest. Our bylaws consist of 29 pages with 15,689 words. They were originally drafted and adopted in 1916 and have been amended and added to at every convention since. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that our governing document now has internal contradictions, confusing language and overly specific information. There’s Article 8, Section 3, which “permits” members to wear Kiwanis-branded clothing. And there’s the article on committees, which tells us — among many other things — that committee mem-

P t l

of increasing our fundraising strength and perhaps leading to their Kiwanis membership. I also expect that the Children’s Fund will become more involved in assisting and counseling club and district foundations with their own charitable work. The Children’s Fund is staffed by experts who can help with fundraising strategies, foundation management and grant seeking. For more information, contact childrensfund@


bers serve for the year for which they are appointed. (Thanks, bylaws.) Oh, and that committees must have at least three members, unless they’re “special” committees. Whatever those are, they apparently need only one member. Even the process for amending the bylaws is hard to follow within the bylaws themselves. The bottom line: They often create more problems than they solve. They have become too complicated and even outdated. It’s time to modernize. During the Kiwanis International convention, we’ll ask the House of Delegates to consider a new article. Yes, it will add another 152 words.

But it will also give delegates the authority to revise the entire document periodically. With this article, a proposed set of modernized — and streamlined — bylaws can be considered next year. It’s always tempting to try solving problems with more rules. But our bylaws show what happens when we don’t stop to look at the big picture. For Kiwanis clubs, which must abide by them, it’s high time to make them easier to follow.


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Key dates in June and July: June Kiwanis International Convention, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA [8-11] Kiwanis International Board meeting, Indianapolis [22] Kiwanis Children’s Fund Board meeting, Indianapolis [22] July Kiwanis International Office in Indianapolis closed [4] Key Club International Convention, Washington D.C., USA [6-10] Circle K International Convention, Austin, Texas, USA [24-27]

Legacy of Play contest This year’s Legacy of Play contest, sponsored by Kiwanis partner Landscape Structures, begins in August. Here are the key dates: Entry period: August 10 to September 10 Voting period: September 18 to September 30 Winner announced: October 13 For more information, go to

Kiwanis training event is a first for Africa In May, Kiwanis International held its first training event on the African continent. The Africa Education Summit took place May 11-14 in Johannesburg, South Africa, with 32 participants from 31 Kiwanis clubs throughout the continent. Kiwanians from 15 African nations attended the event’s workshops and sessions, which addressed topics from finances and fundraising to best practices, strategic planning and more. In addition, 2021-22 Kiwanis International

President Peter Mancuso addressed the summit on May 13, detailing the history and recent work of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. “Africa offers Kiwanis an opportunity for significant membership growth and for service to many people in need, especially children,” Mancuso said. “The summit will enable participants to play a larger service role in their communities in the name of Kiwanis, which will make them more prominent there and better able to recruit new members.”


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That’s how many Kiwanis clubs entered the 2022 Signature Project Contest. Our thanks to clubs around the world for showing pride in the projects that make you stand out in your communities.

Be ready with BUG, Terrific Kids

For Kiwanis clubs that sponsor Service Leadership Programs, the arrival of summer means it’s time to prepare for the next school year. If your club sponsors a K-Kids club, take advantage of two popular Kiwanis programs: Bring Up Grades and Terrific Kids. Each helps schools celebrate students. For students who maintain or improve their grades, purchase a Bring Up Grades, or BUG, kit for a school in your area. You can even partner with the school to distribute awards. To help students modify their behavior and become the best versions of themselves, purchase a Terrific Kids kit for a school. To order materials, go to

Trustee Aguilar passes away Kiwanis International Trustee Wilfredo G. “Willy” Aguilar of Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Philippines, passed away on April 28. Aguilar was elected to the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees during the Asia-Pacific convention held in Nepal in March 2020. He represented the Asia-Pacific region of Kiwanis International. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our beloved friend and fellow Kiwanian,” said 2021-22

Kiwanis International President Peter Mancuso. “Willy was passionate about helping others, as is evident in his years of service for his club, community and the world. He believed so much in the mission of Kiwanis that he made it his own mission to open new clubs and invite others to join him in changing the world.” A Kiwanian for 31 years, Aguilar was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Marbel in the Philippine South District.

He served as club president, as well as lieutenant governor and governor for the district. He is survived by his wife, Lourdes, who is a member and past president of the Kiwanis Club of Crown City. He is also survived by three children and one grandchild. J UN E/J U LY 2022 7

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SIGNATURE PROJECT CONTEST FINALISTS ANNOUNCED Congratulations to the Kiwanis club finalists in the 2022 Signature Project Contest. The top three selections from each tier will be recognized as the gold, silver and bronze winners during the 2022 Kiwanis International Convention in Indianapolis.

• • •

• Tier 1 finalists (27 or fewer members) • Kiwanis Club of North Port, Florida, U.S.: Children’s Community Clothing Closet • Kiwanis Club of Moorpark, California, U.S.: Breakfast with Santa • Kiwanis Club of Garden Parish, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica: Primary School Reading Garden • Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Pescara, Italy: Lillo and Billo, The Bully • Kiwanis Club of Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S.: Track and Field Day

Kiwanis Club of Greater Swedesboro, New Jersey, U.S.: Run/Sit/Walk Kiwanis Club of Springville, New York, U.S.: Pageant of Bands Kiwanis Club of Caveman, Grants Pass, Oregon, U.S.: Holiday Candles Annual Fundraiser Kiwanis Club of Quezon Magic, Lucena City, Philippine Luzon: Spoonful of Hope Kiwanis Club of Longmont, Colorado, U.S.: Toys for Kids

Tier 2 finalists (28 or more members) • Kiwanis Club of Statesboro, Georgia, U.S.: Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair • Kiwanis Club of Decatur, Alabama, U.S.: Kiwanis Pancake Day • Kiwanis Club of Palmdale West, California, U.S.: Christmas Giving Project

Kiwanis Club of Staunton, Virginia, U.S.: Baseball: 1946-2022

Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana, U.S.: Indiana Balloon Fest

Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.: Club Thrift Sale

Kiwanis Club of Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.: Walk with a Child

Kiwanis Club of Olympia, Washington, U.S.: Food Bank Gardens Greenhouse

Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.: Balloon Fiesta Fundraiser

Kiwanis Club of Appleton-Fox Cities, Wisconsin, U.S.: Kiwanis ‘n Cops ‘n Kids

For more details, go to signatureproject.

Follow Kiwanis on social media:




Linkedin kiwanis-international


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Magnetic member pins are now available from the Kiwanis Store. Whatever you’re wearing, show your Kiwanis pride. And make it stick — without making holes. Check out our new magnetic pins today!

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istorically, air pollution was probably first brought jarringly to Americans’ attention in 1948, when the town of Donora, Pennsylvania, was enveloped in a “lethal haze” believed to be triggered by a local zinc plant. Over a five-day period, nearly half of the town’s 14,000 residents became seriously ill. More than 20 died. Seven years later, the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 became the United States’ first federal attempt to control air pollution, a battle that continues to this day. Air pollution plagues areas nationwide, and a large — and growing — body of research indicates that some areas and people

are more strongly impacted by air pollution than others. “Disproportionate exposures and resulting health disparities continue to be a problem for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities,” says Kristie Trousdale, deputy director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network. These disparities are the result of decades of discriminatory urban planning and housing policies, such as redlining, that segregated people of color into neighborhoods adjacent to industrial facilities. In addition, construction of highways and freeways from the 1950s through the 1970s were concentrated in Black J UN E/J U LY 2022 11

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communities, swallowing up needed greenspace and exposing residents to exhaust emissions and other pollutants. New polluting facilities are also more likely to be situated in these communities, says Trousdale, and residents often lack the resources, time and political power to push back. Trousdale cites the American Lung Association’s State of the Air (SOTA), which has been published each of the past 20 years and analyzes air-quality data from the Environmental Protection Agency. SOTA consistently notes these disparities, she says. The 2022 report found that between 2018 and 2020 “people of color are 3.6 times more likely to be breathing the most polluted air than white people.” In addition, the increased frequency and severity of climate-related disasters is causing more pollution spikes from facility shutdowns and breaches, power failures and other occurrences.

the fact that people of color in the U.S. are more likely to have limited access to quality health care. “Thus, Black children not only have two times the rate of asthma compared with white children,” Trousdale says, “but they’re also two times more likely to be hospitalized for — and four times more likely to die from — asthma than their white peers. They’re more likely to be living in neglected neighborhoods that are under-resourced where other factors such as limited educational services and social capital can compound environmental injustice and perpetuate a cycle of health disparities.” In these areas, she adds, the primary sources of air pollutants for which acceptable levels of exposure can be determined, and for which an ambient air quality standard has been set, are industrial facilities, electrical utilities and motor vehicles. And that’s the outside air.

and pest infestations, which exacerbate respiratory illness.” Many children attend schools that don’t even have working HVAC systems, she says, and the result is that they inhabit poor indoor air quality. And air quality has only become a more pressing issue since COVID-19 struck. NOTING THE DISCREPANCIES Research shows that groups including Black Americans and Indigenous peoples endure a greater and more severe range of health conditions. There’s asthma, for example. Hannah Jaffee, a research analyst with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, says that race and asthma disparities go hand in hand. “The more dominant cause of asthma disparities ... ties into social and structural determinants of health,” Jaffee says. “These determinants include economic stability, physical environment, healthcare quality and access, and environ-

“Indoor air quality is critical, as it can be two to five times worse than outdoor air.” “And again,” Trousdale says, “people of color are more likely to live near these facilities, or near hazardous waste sites or other sources of pollution vulnerable to disaster destabilization.” The problem is compounded by

Indoor air quality can be equally important — and equally bad. “Indoor air quality is critical, as it can be two to five times worse than outdoor air,” Trousdale says. “People living in substandard housing can be exposed to mold

mental justice, to name just a few.” Money isn’t necessarily a buffer. In early 2021, a study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign showed that nearly all emission sectors have a greater impact on people of color,


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regardless of income. That goes against some traditional thinking, says Dr. Christopher Tessum, the civil and environmental engineering professor at the university who led the study. “For a long time, the Econ 101 way of thinking was that more wealth buys better living, better areas, better environments,” Tessum says. “Our study adds to a growing body of research that indicates that’s not the way it works.”

Dr. Jun Wu, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of California Irvine Program in Public Health, has worked for several years on the impact of air pollution on Southern California communities. Orange County, she says, shows an urban city environment with problems similar to other areas across the U.S., with many communities living near freeways or industrial sites. “It could be from a variety of

reasons — land is cheaper, a lack of political power, lack of awareness among the citizens of an area,” Wu says. “My research and that of many others shows that ... minority populations, regardless of income, are more exposed.” To correct these problems, she says, requires action on many levels. “Local, state and federal agencies need to be aware of the issue and be willing to work together,” J UN E/J U LY 2022 13

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Wu says. “Lately, there has been some change at the federal level to be more willing to invest in environmental justice, but they need to work with community groups to develop solutions. And we need to work in a holistic way, not just address air pollution and leave the other factors behind. This is a major issue and cannot be solved quickly.” LINKS TO ILLNESS So what, exactly, is asthma? “Asthma is a chronic disorder of the airways in the lungs where people have airway inflammation,” says Dr. Anjeni Keswani, associate professor of medicine and director of the Division of Allergy/Immunology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Triggers such as aller-

gens, irritants, viral infections and weather changes can generate airway inflammation and spasming of the airways.” There is no cure for asthma and regular treatments are usually required. Asthma cases continue to rise. The disorder currently affects about 300 million people worldwide. It’s believed about 8% of people in the United States live with asthma, which is triggered in part by air pollution caused by “traffic-related air pollutants, which include particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide,” Keswani says. In fact, a recent study conducted by researchers at George Washington University indicated that nearly two million children worldwide develop asthma every year as a result of breathing in

one particular pollutant: nitrogen dioxide. And where does nitrogen dioxide come from? Vehicle tailpipe emissions, power plants and industrial sites. Another study sheds similar light. “Pediatric Asthma: A Global Epidemic,” by Dr. Denise Serebrisky, director of the pulmonology division and codirector of the pediatric asthma collaborative team at NYC Health and Hospitals/Jacobi, finds that: • Among children, asthma is the most common chronic disease, ranking among the top 20 conditions worldwide for disability-adjusted life years in children. • Air pollution is particularly hazardous to the health of susceptible populations like


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children and the elderly, with children at the highest risk because they inhale a higher volume of air per body weight. • Children living near traffic have increased risk of asthma symptoms, school absences and asthma hospitalization. • Worldwide, the main sources of outdoor pollutants are fuel combustion from vehicles, construction and agricultural operations, power plants and industries. • Rapid urbanization and industrialization around the world have increased air pollution, and therefore popula-

lifelong problems.” Those problems place a huge burden on the world’s health systems. Globally, the economic costs of asthma exceed those of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined (an estimated US$56 billion annually in the U.S. alone), with developed economies spending 1-2% of their healthcare budget on asthma. Solomon even points to impacts beyond health. “There’s an impact on education as children miss school, out-of-pocket health expenditure which increase poverty, as well as an unmeasurable potential for

basic capacities don’t exist.” It’s a point echoed by Serebrisky’s study, which states that “for the governments of much of the world’s population, asthma is not a healthcare priority. Asthma management must compete with other prevalent chronic illnesses for a share of available medical care resources.” NEXT STEPS A variety of solutions have been proposed to deal with the myriad problems created by air pollution and its devastating impact around the world. Many of them will require shifts away from

“Among children, asthma is the most common chronic disease, ranking among the top 20 conditions worldwide for disability-adjusted life years in children.” tion exposures. There are reasons why children are more susceptible to asthma than adults, says Abheet Solomon, a senior program manager in UNICEF’s health division. For example, children breathe more rapidly, their immune systems and lungs have not yet fully developed, and they are smaller than adults. “They live closer to the ground, where pollutants concentrate,” Solomon says, “and asthma can create a series of

a lost future,” he says. One problem is a lack of worldwide attention. “Medicine in low- and middle-income countries has been focused on infectious diseases,” Solomon says. “So we are not prepared to deal with the impact of pollution. Look at lead. Two years ago, we did a study that found that one in three children was poisoned by lead. But local authorities and health systems are not prepared to detect or treat children for lead poisoning. The

courses we have long tread. For example, a coalition of environmental and business groups recently sent a letter to the White House demanding the elimination of pollution from all new freight trucks and buses by 2040. That, says Kristie Trousdale, would be a good start. “Consider that the U.S. school bus fleet is the largest transit system in the country, serving over 25 million students each day,” she says. “Transitioning this fleet to electric would benefit the J UN E/J U LY 2022 15

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health of these children riding these buses every day throughout their childhood. Children living near major roadways with significant traffic, or near warehouse distribution centers where larger numbers of heavy-duty and diesel-powered trucks frequent, will also benefit.” But could politics stand in the way? Trousdale maintains a positive outlook, noting the transition to electric vehicles. “Many automakers are investing in production of new models and aiming for superior performance to their gasoline-powered counterparts,” she says. “And demand continues to grow.” She also notes that federal spending will invest significantly in electric vehicles and charging

infrastructure following the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act, which provides approximately US$350 billion for federal highway programs through 2026. That includes funds for electric school buses. According to the American Lung Association study, “The Road to Clean Air,” shifting to zero-admission transport technology could reduce emissions. By 2050, this could result in 6,300 premature deaths avoided, 416,000 lost work days avoided, and global health benefits of an estimated $72 billion — with climate benefits totaling $113 billion. “However,” Trousdale adds, “we need to be careful and intentional about who benefits and

has access — and how our investments in clean transportation will prove equitable and meet Justice40 initiatives.” Justice40 initiatives aim to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy, including sustainable transportation, to disadvantaged communities. “Vigilance is needed to ensure compliance and enforcement of child-protective policy,” Trousdale says. As the factors associated with health disparities compound, she adds, a coordinated government approach becomes necessary. So does community involvement in decision-making around prevention and research. “We need a paradigm shift,” she says. “We focus a great deal on treatment of illnesses. If we could focus more of this support on prevention, the results may not be as visible — how can you see diseases being avoided? — but they would be significant.” EDUCATION IS KEY Abheet Solomon says UNICEF’s focus has been on the impact of pollution in low- and middle-income countries. Ultimately, he believes, pollution — and how it relates to children’s’ health — is an equity issue. “Even in high-income countries, you still see people living in heavily polluted areas, in homes without filtering systems or using coal in antiquated stoves for heat-


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ing and cooking,” Solomon says. So, what needs to happen? Solomon says part of the problem is that the focus of healthcare systems has been on pathogens rather than pollutants. We need to improve awareness of the impact of pollutants on human health when training the world’s healthcare workers. In fact, he says, education is vital not just for the world’s healthcare workers, but for others who interact with vulnerable children. “In addition to training health workers, we need to improve awareness in teachers and caregivers about the dangerous impact of pollution on children’s health,” Solomon says. He cites Georgia and Mongolia as countries worthy of “cautious optimism.” In Georgia, a 2018 study found that 41% of the country’s children had lead levels equal to

and developmental delays. The government of Georgia, working with UNICEF, has developed a multiyear plan to identify and control the major sources of lead exposure, as well as short-, medium- and long-term measures to manage the problem. The national strategy also includes additional training and education among the country’s medical personnel. In Mongolia, meanwhile, UNICEF has been working to address air pollution. “The big issue is the use of solid fuel for both cooking and heating,” Solomon says. “The country has been making progress, working to move toward safer fuels and educating and involving the young people of the country. But it’s a long road. It won’t happen overnight.” But Solomon remains optimistic that it will happen. Of course,

arena, and there is a tremendous future that’s being wasted.” Even children who survive the effects of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide can suffer for the rest of their lives from developmental delays, damaged cognitive ability, cardiovascular difficulties and other problems. And all of that places a greater burden on families. Some studies indicate that when children become asthmatic, as much as half of the annual household budget can be spent caring for them. Such economic burdens also extend to local and regional healthcare systems. And there are, of course, the children — who don’t get the kinds of happy, healthy lives that all kids deserve. “These problems require the same level of commitment as we showed in dealing with COVID,” Solomon says. “I know

“We need more education of teachers, as well as parents, about the dangers of pollution, the impact of pollutants on children’s’ health.” or greater than 5 mg/dL. (For context, the Centers for Disease Control uses 3.5mg/dL to identify children who have higher levels of lead in their blood than most children do.) Lead exposure can lead to complications such as learning disabilities and growth

the road ahead is by no means clear — whether in Mongolia or anywhere else. “To date, much of our investment in caring for the world’s children has been in the arena of communicable diseases,” he says, “but pollution is a very different

that problem is not yet solved, but the diagnoses and treatments we developed are examples of what we can do when we put our mind to it. It will take a whole-society approach, but I don’t believe it’s impossible if we have the will.” K J UN E/J U LY 2022 17

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r. Jay Turner, vice dean and professor in the James McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University of St. Louis, has too many jobs and qualifications to list. But we’ll say this: He knows more than most about the effects of air quality on children’s health. He is part of a team selected to evaluate a U.S.-government funded program to subsidize the replacement of high-polluting, low-efficiency residential coal burning stoves. He’s been working in Mongolia since 2012 and was part of a team funded by the Mongolian government to assess a range of possible emission control strategies over a 10-year horizon. “I’m currently leading a project for UNICEF to better understand air pollution in Mongolia’s secondary cities and to evaluate children’s exposure to air pollution in kindergartens,” he says. Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia’s capital city and home to more than one million residents. It’s been growing, Turner says, because of “internal migration driven by economic/education opportunities, but also climate migration, as the nomadic lifestyle becomes unsustainable. Most of these people move to ger-dominated neighborhoods (a ger is similar to a yurt) on the perimeter of the city, and have little access to standard services.” People living in these areas, he says, typically heat their homes with coal and other solid fuels. Given the extreme wintertime conditions, the rate of coal consump-

“(I am) particularly interested in opportunities to shift the conversation from being a strictly environmental issue to being a public health issue, and thus the opportunity to work with UNICEF with its focus on child and maternal health and well-being was a natural fit.” — Dr. Jay Turner tion can be enormous. “These stoves tend to have high pollutant emissions,” he says, “and can lead to neighborhood, and larger-scale pollution. The topography exacerbates the problem, with pollutants trapped in the valley where the city is located.” As in many countries around the world, he says, poorer neighborhoods are the hardest hit. “Poorer neighborhoods typically lack the infrastructure to heat their homes using (anything other than) solid fuels, and/or the pricing structure drives them to fuels like coal. In some cases, the government tries to help these populations by subsidizing coal purchases, but this in turn reinforces the use of this high-polluting fuel.” As in many areas, transportation exhaust is also a problem in both Ulaanbaatar and the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. “In both cities, vehicle emis-

sions are a significant source (of pollution) in the downtown area, with heating sources less so, because most buildings are connected to district (systems) from a power plant,” Turner says. “However, as you move away from the city center and into areas with coal-heated households, this heating source clearly dominates.” Thanks to research programs like Turner’s and action by the Mongolian government, the city has begun to improve. But there are still hurdles, Turner says. “While some claim the future is cleaner coal, at some point, ideally sooner rather than later, there needs to be a pivot away from residential heating with solid fuels. Working with UNICEF and Public Lab Mongolia (an in-country NGO), we are launching a kindergarten teacher education program to raise awareness about air qualiJ UN E/J U LY 2022 19

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ty and what can be done at school to reduce exposures. These teachers are also a key conduit to teach parents about what can be done at home to reduce these exposures.” A project by the Asian Development Bank (The Ulaanbaatar Air Quality Improvement Program) included funding to support the ban on raw coal burning and to establish technical standards for vehicle pollution. New building codes were adopted for programs such as the application of thermal protection requirements to new buildings and the renovation of apartment buildings and public, industrial and warehouse buildings. Governments also adopted measures on pollution reduction and health protection. Other programs included subsidizing loans to eligible low-income households and entities to promote the use of electric heaters, insulation materials, clean heating solutions, improved stoves and other solutions to improve living and working conditions in ger areas. In Kyrgyzstan’s capitol Bishkek, Turner has been fighting a similar battle. In 2021, he was asked to join a team responding to a UNICEF call for proposals. It’s a new project that faces many of the same obstacles. “There are several compounding factors,” Turner says. “The city’s population is growing because of internal migration, and many of these people are living in informal settlements on the perimeter of the city, where living is cheaper, but housing stock quality is often poor

and poorly insulated, with little-tono access to standard services. In these and other areas, it’s common to heat homes using solid fuels — especially coal — in a stove. These stoves tend to have high pollutant emissions, and can lead to neighborhood, as well as large-scale air pollution. Second, hydroelectricity is an important energy source, and droughts in recent years have reduced output and driven a shift to solid fuels. And third, in the downtown areas, vehicles contribute to local-scale air pollution.” There are a variety of other factors, including what Turner refers to as “aged” power plants, an energy infrastructure both “antiquated and inefficient,” and the available supply of local coal, which he describes as “plentiful and cheap.” As in Mongolia, Turner and his team have been working closely with residents and a number of institutions. “Many institutions are engaged,” he says. “Indeed, well before we started in Kyrgyzstan, they included national and city government, UN organizations including UNICEF, financial institutions including the Asia Development Bank, donor organizations and others. “(I am) particularly interested in opportunities to shift the conversation from being a strictly environmental issue

to being a public health issue — and thus the opportunity to work with UNICEF with its focus on child and maternal health and well-being was a natural fit.” In Bishkek, Turner says, both the national and city governments have formed a committee to address air pollution. The committee listed 40 possible measures to improve air quality. The measures need to be prioritized, Turner says, based on science and feasibility before being put into action. “The crux is to move away from residential heating with solid fuel,” he says. “An example could be widespread adoption of air-toair heat pumps. It does take some electricity but overall has high efficiency and is quite clean.” Donor organizations are now funding a pilot study for this technology. “Widespread adoption could dramatically help the shift away from household heating with coal,” Turner says. “Also, energy savings from better thermal control of buildings could be an opportunity to expand the area served by district heating.” K


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WHAT YOU CAN DO There are things you can do right now to help improve the quality of air both inside and outside of your home. Here are just a few. OUTDOORS • Carpool if possible. • Avoid excessive idling of your vehicle. • Keep the engines of cars, boats and other vehicles properly tuned. • Reduce, reuse, recycle. • Purchase energy-efficient appliances. • Refuel your car in the evenings when it’s cooler, and be sure to tighten the gas cap. • Avoid burning trash and leaves. • Purchase electric if and when possible — cars, lawn equipment, etc. • Conserve electricity. • Mulch or compost yard waste and leaves. INDOORS • Do not smoke cigarettes or electronic cigarettes in the home. • Reduce or discontinue use of household cleaning supplies that contain harsh chemicals that can trigger asthma or other lung-related illnesses. Instead, use all-natural cleaning supplies. • Remove carpeting inside the home where and if possible.

• Run the air conditioner when possible. • Take your shoes off when inside to avoid tracking pollutants into the home. • Wash bedding weekly in hot water. • Dust and vacuum often. • Ensure exhaust fans are working properly in kitchen and bathrooms. • Make sure your gas stove is well-ventilated.

What can my Kiwanis club do to help? • Offer education about air quality at your next meeting. Invite an environmental expert to talk about the issues. Consider inviting this expert to speak to members of your club’s Service Leadership Programs as well. • Carpool to your events and meetings. • Stage a recycling program in your community. Collect old batteries, electronics, appliances and other hazardous materials and correctly discard them. • Partner with your local children’s hospital to support children’s asthma awareness. • Offer a Christmas tree pickup service and work with your local officials to discard them properly. • Work with your local energy providers to offer education and to spread awareness about ways families can be more energy efficient. Sources: United States Environmental Protection Agency, Cleveland Clinic

• Use a dehumidifier.

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ennifer Richardson was angry. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, once described by Mark Twain as a city “clothed in flowers, like a bride,” now was clothed in trash. “It’s everywhere,” says Richardson, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Red Stick. “Every time I’d pull up to an intersection and see all the garbage, my blood pressure would bubble up.” Ditches were filled with litter. Weed-choked medians caught cigarette butts and aluminum cans. Boxes and fast-food containers clung to

underpasses. Sitting at a trash-laden intersection one day, Richardson gripped her steering wheel with resolve. “I finally decided I was tired of listening to myself complain. I was going do something about it,” she says. “I promised myself that I’d spend the next Saturday morning picking up that trash.” She posted her plan on the social media sites Facebook and Nextdoor, casually inviting others to join her. A few days later, she was ready with boots, gloves and trash bags. “I’m in the median, pulling weeds, picking up beer

cans and liquor bottles, and I’m thinking, ‘I must be the talk of the town — the crazy old lady that’s out in the street picking up trash,’” she says. “But then I looked up, and people were coming out of the bushes to help.” Ten volunteers filled 42 contractor-sized bags with trash in just three hours. “The more we did, the better we felt. The feeling was euphoric. Everyone was saying they hadn’t felt this good in 30 years,” Richardson says. Since then, Richardson has built a cadre of 50 volunteers.

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Every Saturday since January 2021, they have shown up when they can, picking up trash. Sometimes they also work on unscheduled weekday cleanups. Richardson started a Facebook page for her “litter warriors” and dubbed the group Keep Tiger Town Beautiful, named after the mascot of the city’s beloved university football team. Earlier this year, she was nominated for the prestigious Kiwanis Club of Louisiana State University’s Kiwanian of the Year award for her efforts.

Keep Tiger Town Beautiful is not a registered nonprofit and doesn’t ask volunteers to make a time or financial commitment. It exists because Richardson inspires people with the desire to improve their surroundings. Visiting her children in Georgia and Texas, current KTTB volunteer Sue Abshire noticed their towns were much cleaner than

LEADING BY EXAMPLE After hearing about Richardson’s project, the Kiwanis Club of Red Stick invited her to speak about her cleanup efforts. JENNIFER RICHARDSON “I raised three kids by myself and have never been a member Baton Rouge. of anything,” Richardson says. “I joined Jennifer’s group on “But now I’m in my 60s. I devote the Saturday after my son’s wedmost of my time to volunteerding, and I’ve been going ever ing. So I joined the club. Memsince,” Abshire says. “Somebers have come to my Saturday times I’ll go three or four times cleanups, and we had a service a week. I love it. I feel like I’m day where the club unanimously doing something for this city. voted for my group to be the “A lot of volunteers bring their recipient. A bunch of Kiwanians kids, and we’ve had teenagers came out, and they still do.” and law school students. We

even have a little boy, Lance, who had his birthday party with us. Jenn gave him his own trash grabber and a little neon vest.” Another KTTB volunteer, Nanette Olivier, first heard Richardson’s name as a speaker for Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater Baton Rouge. “I was just bowled over with Jennifer’s energy and dedication to making a difference in our community,” Olivier says. “I have a fair amount of energy myself, but she has a tireless spirit. You can’t help but follow such an enthusiastic person and want to make a difference with her.” For Olivier, an appreciation for Baton Rouge’s natural environment is a motivating factor. “Litter in our city mars the natural beauty,” she says. “When you see all this litter around, people get the mindset that it’s normal. Jennifer’s group can change what we see as normative behavior. We respect our environment, we do what we can to pitch in, and it’s not acceptable to trash it up.” The volunteers, clad in bright yellow KTTB T-shirts, clean up


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areas that the city won’t. As of April 2022, they had filled 3,300 contractor-grade bags with litter — about 165,000 pounds of trash. Appreciative city residents donate whatever supplies the group needs. “People will drop off contractor bags at my house, or they’ll give enough money to get us through the next weekend or two,” Richardson says. “I recently asked for trash bins. Next thing you know, a local pharmaceutical company

dropped off big, beautiful blue bins at my house.” In late 2021, Richardson shared the need for a truck to haul supplies. “The next Saturday, in rolls a big ol’ truck with a huge, covered trailer. Seth Dawson (president and CEO of the company Paperless Environments) jumps out and says, ‘Jennifer, I’ve been trying everything I could to clean up the city. I’ve called everybody and nothing gets

done. Then I saw your web page and that you’re doing something every day. This is for you.’” Inside were rakes, shovels and a new John Deere tractor. Dawson even promised to drive the trailer to Saturday cleanups. “I started crying,” Richardson said. “These are the finest people you will ever meet. They’re so humble and precious. They work side by side pulling the most disgusting things out of drains, yet they keep coming back.” K

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Story by Tony Knoderer


oing into space is a remarkable voyage for anyone. For Mae Jemison, it was a journey that began in her Chicago childhood, took her to Stanford University and Cornell University, continued into professional life as a medical doctor and as an engineer, and even sent her into service in West Africa and in Cambodian refugee camps. And there were, of course, her six years as an astronaut. A notable accomplishment in its own right, her career with NASA carries a historic distinction: Jemison was the first woman of color in the world to go into space. Her lifelong journey continues today. Jemison now leads 100 Year Starship, a project whose goal is to help humanity travel beyond our solar system within the next 100 years.

So she speaks from experience when she talks to people about the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and service. MESSAGE AND MISSION Jemison will address the Leading For All Kids Keynote Session on Friday, June 10, at the Kiwanis International convention. In many ways, Kiwanians make the perfect audience for her. After all, Jemison’s life and work have been extraordinary, but they also give her a message that resonates particularly with those who see the potential in young people and want to make the future brighter for them. Of course, there’s her current work with 100 Year Starship, which was created to help accelerate the knowledge, technology, J UN E/J U LY 2022 27

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Photo courtesy NASA

design and thinking that are required to expand the frontiers of human space travel. But there’s also her story, which is a testament to the horizons of personal possibility. Such possibility is at the core of Kiwanis service, which supports Kiwanis International causes that include education and literacy and the development of leadership skills. For members, that fact makes Jemison a person with a message about our mission — because personal horizons are

where an individual’s skills can make an impact on the world at large. And far beyond it. PROVIDING INSPIRATION When Jemison boarded the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992, she made history as the first woman of color in space. But she also did her work — performing experiments in material science, life sciences and human adaptation to weightlessness. That’s another key to Jemison’s significance. In addition to

history, her continuing status as a working professional provides an equally important form of inspiration: an example. Jemison has previously referred to exposure, experience and expectation as “the three Es.” She considers them crucial to helping students with an aptitude for STEM stick with those subjects — maybe even into their own careers. The idea is to see that a possibility exists because someone serves as an example, and then to gain the knowledge of


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Jemison has previously referred to exposure, experience and expectation as “the three Es.” She considers them crucial to helping students with an aptitude for STEM stick with those subjects — maybe even into their own careers. hands-on experience. After that, there’s the expectation that a kid can succeed and achieve. Much of her adult life has been devoted to providing those E’s. In 1994, for example, she founded the international science camp The Earth We Share (TEWS) for 12- to 16-year-old students from around the world. TEWS is a program of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence (DJF), which held the TEWS-Space Race from 2011 to 2014 in collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District — training thousands of middle school students and hundreds of middle school teachers in experiential science education. So many of Jemison’s accomplishments also serve as ways to reach out, to show people of all ages what’s possible and why it’s worth trying. The list goes on. She is Bayer Corporation USA’s national science literacy ambassador. She is one of the series

hosts for National Geographic’s “One Strange Rock” and space operations advisor for its global miniseries “MARS.” She’s an author of books, including a series on space exploration. She’s the first real astronaut to appear on a “Star Trek” TV series and she’s a LEGO figurine in the LEGO Women of NASA kit.

Jemison is also an inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the International Space Hall of Fame and others. And soon, she’ll be at the Kiwanis International convention — bringing a lifetime of experience and accomplishment to folks who share her passion for possibility. K

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f you went back in time to Rachel Giannini’s childhood and told her that she would grow up to be a nationally respected teacher of small children, she probably wouldn’t believe it. Or even want to hear it. “I never wanted to be a teacher,” Giannini says today. “I hated school. On my report cards, my teachers would write, ‘Rachel can’t work without disturbing other students.’” Little did she know that her outgoing, hands-on way of learning contained the seed that would make her one of the foremost experts on early-childhood education. In fact, a philosophy of learning through play will bring her to the 2022 Kiwanis International Convention in Indianapolis. On Thursday, June 9, Giannini will address the Ready To Learn Kiwanis Launchpad, showing attendees how to turn small mo-

ments into learning opportunities. Then she’ll lead an interactive lab to emphasize how every moment matters in the development of a young child’s brain. All in all, her approach to early-childhood education matches Kiwanis’ emphasis on the importance of play both to children’s development and to the effectiveness of adults’ service. But the road that brought Giannini to her current prominence — and to the Kiwanis International convention — took some surprising turns along the way. IT MAKES SENSE SOMEHOW Giannini was a college student taking a class on interpreting sign language when something clicked. “The teacher told us, ‘Children learn best through play,’” she says. “That really resonated with me.” It was an insight that sent Giannini’s life — from her college major to her future career — in

Photo by Curtis Billue


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“Coming in and giving tactile takeaways that people can take with them — that’s huge. It’s even better because (Kiwanians) aren’t paid to serve. It’s truly from the bottom of their hearts.” — Rachel Giannini a new direction. But even then, finding your calling isn’t the same thing as hitting the jackpot. She loved her work, but like many teachers, she also needed a second job to make ends meet. One path toward a steady income was to get an advanced degree, so she began working on her master’s in Museum Exhibiting and Education. Then came one of those unforeseen turns. In 2015, Giannini was teaching pre-kindergarten while a crew of documentary filmmakers were searching nationwide for

classrooms in which to film. They reached out to the Erickson Institute, where a former teacher of Giannini worked. That teacher suggested Giannini. “I got a phone call,” she says. “I knew nothing, only that people were asking to come into my room for several months. We had parents and lawyers talking: ‘Your children could be in the documentary — are you OK with that?’” It’s not necessarily an easy call for anyone, including the teacher, but Giannini understood the film would highlight the importance of early-childhood education and its

underappreciated impact on kids and society at large. Giannini was in. And that little film, eventually called “No Small Matter,” would change her life. “It was all very happenstance,” she says. “I was just in the right place at the right time, with the right person speaking up on my behalf. The road is winding, but it makes sense somehow.” REACHING PEOPLE Master’s degree in hand, Giannini had moved on to the Chicago Children’s Museum when the filmmakers were finishing the editing on “No Small Matter.” Of course, a documentary about early-childhood education wasn’t destined to compete in the multiplex with the latest comic-book spectacle, so the filmmakers decided they needed a grassroots movement. “They said, ‘How about making videos for promotion?’” Giannini says. “It wasn’t so much for the film but about supporting early education.” She started making the videos — and then found that she had started reaching people. “I was getting calls: ‘We’d love it if you could come speak to our teachers, speak to educators,’ that kind of thing.”


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Eventually, Giannini became popular enough that she didn’t have time for both her day job at the Children’s Museum and the growing demand for her social-media and in-person appearances. She describes her current work as a “new adventure,” but for an accomplished educator, each step away from classroom settings carries a certain melancholy. “When I left the classroom, it was a sad moment,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’m not making a difference in the lives of 20 kids anymore.’ Then I realized I could reach 200 in a museum. And now, if I talk to 1,000 teachers and each of them teaches 20 kids, that trickle-down is huge. I’m giving information to teachers on why something is important — and how they can do it themselves.” In fact, Giannini’s latest path has led her to all kinds of people who can make a difference in young kids’ development, regard-

less of what they do for a living. “You don’t have to be an educator,” she says. “You just have to care. If you have even a foot in early-childhood education, I want to talk to you.” ROCKET SCIENCE That’s what makes Giannini’s appearance at the Kiwanis International convention a natural fit. Indeed, this year’s event will be her second consecutive visit. “Coming in and giving tactile takeaways that people can take with them — that’s huge,” she says. “It’s even better because (Kiwanians) aren’t paid to serve. It’s truly from the bottom of their hearts.” But a desire to serve is only the beginning. Knowing how babies and young children learn — and why that learning will matter for the rest of their lives — helps adults serve them effectively. After all, 85% of a child’s brain

development is complete by age 3. By age 5, it’s 90% complete. “A lot of people don’t realize what’s happening in a small child’s brain,” Giannini says. “Rocket science is happening in a small child’s brain. I mean, they’re going from knowing nothing to walking and talking and learning things about their world in a year or two.” In the last year or so, that knowledge and wonder has come home to Giannini. Literally. She’s now the parent of a one-year-old, and she’s found that she’s learning some new things herself. “Holy crumbs! It’s the hardest job I’ll ever have,” she says. “I always gave parents massive credit because parents are a kid’s first and best teacher. But now I know the slack I should have given them. I really want to promote a level of understanding for parents’ need for caregivers — the people who make life a little easier for parents.” Giannini’s sense of empathy is one key to her popularity. All that experience in making learning fun turns out to be pretty effective with adult audiences as well. For educators and noneducators alike, it leaves people confident that they can do it too. “Any interaction you have with a small child that’s meaningful and authentic makes a difference,” Giannini says. “What I believe in — making the world a better place — depends on getting to kids earlier. That Kiwanis also believes in that is truly phenomenal.” K J UN E/J U LY 2022 33

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embership. Partnerships. Hermansen says it’s an important Public relations. part of emphasizing to members If you’ve received any that clubs need to stay relevant. amount of communications from “One way to do that is to collabthe Kiwanis International Office, orate within the club,” she says. you’ve probably seen or heard “We want our public relations, about each of these topics. And membership and partnership hopefully you’ve learned a little committees to work together to about how each one helps your Kikeep clubs strong and ensure the wanis club — especially when the service to kids is relevant.” club has a committee for each area. After all, membership, partnerships and public relations are each crucial in their own way. But that description can also be misleading: Each comBRIDGING MEMBERSHIP, PARTNERSHIP & PUBLIC mittee may have its own RELATIONS COMMITTEES function, with its own set of members and meetings, MEMBERSHIP but they don’t have to be three separate silos within PARTNERSHIP your club. PUBLIC In fact, the club benefits RELATIONS most of all when the walls come down and the three committees work together. The jobs of the Membership, Partnership and Public Relations How and why that’s the committees are very different. But when these committees work together, the club benefits. More importantly, the club is able to help more kids thrive, prosper and grow. case will be the subject of a workshop at the 2022 Kiwanis International Convention: “Membership, partnership and public relations committees.” TWO SCENARIOS The workshop wasn’t designed Along with Hermansen, the Kijust for Kiwanians who are on one wanis International staff members of those committees, says Vicki who will conduct the workshop Hermansen, Kiwanis Internationare Chris Martz, director of global al area director, North America 4. membership and education; and It’s available to anyone with an Elizabeth Warren, director of prointerest in any of the topics. grams and partnerships. One of the three Kiwanis Like the ideal club committee International staff members who chairs, they’ve collaborated on will co-conduct the workshop, the workshop’s design. Using a


hypothetical Kiwanis club event as a structure for the session, the trio will highlight each committee’s role in making such an event a success. True to the spirit of the workshop, however, they’ve also made collaboration a part of the session itself. Attendees will have a chance to work together on one of two scenarios, which are detailed in the workbook they will receive when they arrive. One is a service project in which a Kiwanis club is putting together a donation of backpacks to elementary school students in an area where a high percentage of kids qualify for a free or reduced-fee lunch program. In the other, the club is helping a local Boys & Girls Club with a two-day service project to refurbish its old building, which has fallen into disrepair. “Each of these scenarios will allow participants to think about how an event could be used to attract new members, engage with a new partner and achieve media coverage,” Hermansen says. “We’ll have members of each of the committees work together on tactics for membership, partnership and public relations.” Can’t make it to the convention? Find out how committees can work together with the session workbook. Go to workingtogether-workbook. K J UN E/J U LY 2022 35

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n Boone County, Indiana, the median household income is a comfortable US$83,077. But as in many other prosperous communities, that number doesn’t tell the whole story. According to Gleaners Food Bank, part of the Feeding America network, in 2019 the county had a 6.1% poverty rate, and 28% of its residents were working but not earning enough money for life’s necessities. When Holly Catron, then the

county’s community wellness coordinator, learned that the county was home to 6,150 food-insecure people — 1,600 of whom were children — she wanted to do something to help. So she started a movement that evolved into the Boone County Community Gardens, with a mission to “grow a sustainable network of gardens to educate, eat well and create a thriving community.” At the time, Kiwanian Amy

Hammerle worked for the Boone County Economic Development Corporation. She thought the community gardens would be a great addition to the organizations that were helped on the annual day of service she coordinated for area businesses. When none of the companies chose that option, she knew just who to approach: her fellow members of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club in Lebanon, Indiana. The Kiwanians not only accepted but decided to include members of the Lebanon High School and Western Boone High School Key Clubs. While the pandemic derailed plans to serve in 2020, volunteers from the three clubs gathered at the production garden on an April Saturday in


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2021. The 100-by-100-square-foot space is part of a two-acre plot of land owned by Lebanon Community Church, which offered the land for the project and ran a water line to the plot so plants could be easily maintained. (The remainder of the two-acre space is used by a trio of county residents who grow alfalfa to feed their farm-raised cows and pigs.) Throughout the busy day, the Kiwanis family members cleaned out old growth from the previous year, built and installed raised garden beds, created vertical growing cages for vining plants and moved soil and mulch. “Most of the group were not even aware that there was an organization that grew food for the

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community, so I think just learning about the production garden was impactful,” says Hammerle. “And then just getting their hands dirty. They could actually see the impact that they were having participating in this project by building garden beds.” Sue Kovach is one of the master gardeners who regularly works at the all-volunteer program. Since many of the regular gardeners are older, they appreciated the energy and literal heavy lifting brought by the Kiwanis group ­­— especially the Key Club members. “That was the day of a lot of wheelbarrows full of very heavy soil,” she recalls. “I just remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how we would have gotten this done without this group.’” Aaliyah Carlisle, a member of the Lebanon High School Key Club, was one of those heavy lifters. “I helped with the hard part, filling the beds,” she says. “I hauled soil and compost for hours onto a wheelbarrow and into the garden beds, then flattened the soil inside of the beds. It was exhausting, but I had a lot of fun doing it and would definitely do it again. After hours of shoveling, going back and forth and pushing a wheelbarrow, it was really nice to see the product of all of our labor.” In fact, Carlisle enjoyed the experience so much that she volunteered on her own to help out at the production

garden in the months to come. “I really liked how easy it was to talk to anyone there,” she explains. “Everyone cared about the project, but there was a really nice balance between talking about it and everyone’s personal life. I made some friends, and it was nice hearing not only about their experiences with gardening, but about their kids, their jobs — it was really nice to connect.” Throughout the growing season, a variety of vegetables thrived: lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, peas, cucumbers, green beans, radishes, carrots, beets, cabbage, jalapenos, bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, spaghetti squash, watermelon and butternut squash. During the most bountiful harvest months, volunteers picked vegetables two or three times weekly, sometimes bringing in as much

as 150 pounds per day. And by season’s end, they had grown and donated 2,400 pounds — more than a ton — of healthy food to feed hungry county residents. The Kiwanis family members returned to the garden in the fall for cleanup, and again in April of 2022 to start the whole process over for a new growing cycle. Their help, Kovach says, is invaluable to the continuation of the program. “We want this forever to be a garden space,” she says. “We really want this to be a donation garden where everything we grow we give away. So with the help of Kiwanis and other groups, this could go on for a really long time. I will always be appreciative of Kiwanis and the Key Clubs. I just love that group. They’ve been lifesavers for us.” K


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n a state-supported home called Matthew 25:40 in Jamaica, 19 boys and young men infected with HIV as infants live sequestered from a society that shuns them. The stigma of HIV is so intense in their communities that the mothers who passed the virus to these children at birth or through breastfeeding abandoned them to avoid the shame. Two years ago, Dwayne Cargill, then first-vice president of the Kiwanis Club of North St. Andrew, learned about the home’s residents and made a decision: As president, he’d lead a club effort to change their lives. “These young men don’t have anywhere to go after they leave the home. They were going out on the streets. That’s not what we want for them,” Cargill says. The residents, ages 15 to 25, were angry at life and unable to trust volunteers who visited only a few times.

“No one in their lives has stayed,” Cargill says. “This gave us the resolve to help them become productive citizens. We thought that with the skill sets within our club, we’d be able to make an impact.” Past President Mark Russell formalized a Mentorship and Skills

Development program. “I was 15. I know what it was like to distrust someone who comes to you with a story,” Russell said in an interview with “CVM TV at Sunrise.” “Part of our intervention involves rap sessions. Before we can help, we

have to show them that people recognize them as human beings.” Fifty-one club members have participated in field trips, football games and guest speaker presentations, as well as training sessions in relationships, job interviews and more. “They recognize us now and see that we’re not like any other club,” Russell says, “so the trust element is slowly gaining momentum.” At a recent club-hosted talent show, some of the young men performed their own original songs. It’s the kind of behavior that tells Cargill the club is having a positive impact. “Since we’ve been there, the response has changed significantly,” he says. “When they started saying, ‘We’ll see you on Monday, right?’ we knew we were engaging them.” Encouraged by the results, the club’s leaders have committed to continuing the program. K


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o you remember what it felt like, as a child, to be tucked into your cozy bed every night? Did you feel safe? Warm? Happy? Now imagine being a child who didn’t have a bed to sleep in. What if your bed had been a couch? What if it had been the floor every single night? Unfortunately, that’s the reality for thousands of children across the United States. In October 2021, the Kiwanis Club of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, partnered up on Kiwanis One Day with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to building, assembling and delivering bunk beds to children and families in need. Joined by members of the Niceville High School Key Club, the Walton Beach

Kiwanians and SHP prepared all the parts needed to build 20 beds. “All children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads,” says Ruth Sykes, president of the Fort Walton Beach club. “Across the U.S., too many boys and girls go without a bed — or even a pillow — to sleep on. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets and even floors. This can affect their happiness and health. Child ‘bedlessness’ may not be a real word, but it is a real problem.” In the fall of 2019, Pastor Mickey Hawkins of Cinco Baptist Church started the Fort Walton Beach chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace to serve children in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties in Florida. As soon as Matt Dixon,

then the president as Matt Dixon,

then president of the Fort Walton Beach Kiwanis Club, learned about Sleep in Heavenly Peace, he wanted to be involved. His fellow club members agreed, and the relationship between the two organizations blossomed. “A bed, a place to lay your head at night, is something that most of us take for granted,” Sykes says. “Each time SHP does a bed delivery, it helps to remind us how truly blessed we are each and every day. The Kiwanis Club of Fort Walton Beach members are doing something tangible and worthwhile for kids in our community and will be making bed building one of our continuing service projects.” K


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MAKE MEMORIES FOR NEW MEMBERS. Joining your Kiwanis club is a big deal. Make it memorable! Order a new-member kit from the Kiwanis Store today. Make it official — and make them feel welcome — with certificates, pins and more.

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Kiwanis Intl. 3636 Woodview Tr. Indianapolis, IN 46268-3196 USA


WHAT’S YOUR STORY? If your club has a success story, simply email a summary and a few photos to to be considered for possible future use in Kiwanis International publications.

READ KIWANIS MAGAZINE ONLINE Enjoy the inspiring stories you love from Kiwanis magazine, plus added content, slideshows and video. Visit to read about great Kiwanis projects, and then share those stories and photos via social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram found right on the page. It’s that easy. When you read something you love, pass it on. #kidsneedkiwanis #kiwanis

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