Kiwanis was founded January 21, 1915, in Detroit, Michigan, by a group of businessmen as a networking organization. It attracted 200 members in its first six months. Soon, the members were distributing Christmas baskets to the poor and performing other charitable acts. By 1919 it was decided the primary mission of Kiwanis should be community service.
The efforts of Kiwanis International have included helping to greatly eliminate iodine deficiency disorder throughout the developing world — a leading cause of developmental disabilities of the brain in areas where iodized salt was not previously available.
Today, there are more than 550,000 Kiwanis clubs around the globe. Kiwanis clubs host nearly 150,000 projects each year and complete more than 19 million service hours. Every year clubs raise more than $100 million to support community causes.
The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla was established in 1925. One of the largest clubs in San Diego County, members meet weekly on Friday for lunch, meeting and a featured speaker. The club provides opportunities for volunteer service and fellowship to over 50 members who raise money each year through the club projects: La Jolla Half Marathon, La Jolla Cove Swim, Pancake Breakfast and Concerts by The Sea.
Event proceeds are given to non-profit organizations and schools in the communities of La Jolla, San Diego and Baja Mexico. Each year the club distributes over $200,000. Charities must complete a grant request application. Recipients are invited to a weekly Friday lunch meeting to receive the check and to speak briefly about how the grant will be used by the organization.
Club members work on a variety of projects that might range from a bike path clean up, distributing Meals on Wheels, and making a float for the annual Christmas Parade. The professions and interests the members bring to the club may be diverse, but they share a commitment to their community and to serving young children – the number one Kiwanis priority.