Trio of Storm Lake clubs look to improve community
The city of Detroit is known primarily as being the cradle of the American automobile industry, a place where large companies such as Ford churn out cars every year.
The Michigan city is also known for being the birthplace of the Kiwanis Club, a community-service and fellowship organization which is now thriving in Storm Lake.
Three separate chapters of Kiwanis - HyNoon Kiwanis, Storm Lake Beavers and Storm Lake Golden Key - make their home in the city, and membership levels in all three have remained steady over the past few years.
Each of the three clubs share a goal of trying to support the community and each other through weekly meetings, fellowship time with each other and - in the case of HyNoon and the Beavers - community-service projects and activities ranging from cleaning ditches to organizing fundraising breakfasts for other local groups.
Dennis Requist, president-elect of the Storm Lake Beavers, said being a member of the civic group was his way of giving back to the community.
"I'm a believer that everyone needs to be involved in community service in at least one way, and this is the way that we can do that," Requist, a Beaver for 15 years, said. "It's a good way for us to help other groups in town, and it's good fellowship as well."
Floyd Courtright, a member of the Golden Key since 1983 and the current secretary/treasurer of the group, said belonging to the organization has given him and other members a place to enjoy each other's company and learn more about the community.
"We support each other," Courtright said. "It's a nice place for fellowship."
The Storm Lake HyNoon, Beavers and Golden Key groups join five other area clubs to comprise District 6 of the Nebraska-Iowa District of Kiwanis. Additional District 6 members include organizations hailing from Alta, Aurelia, Cherokee, Lake City, Laurens and Sac City.
Members of the Storm Lake groups usually attend each of the other District 6 clubs at least once a year in order to foster a feeling of regional community support, and the three Storm Lake organizations also share a time and place for an officer installation ceremony in town.
However, each of the local groups is its own entity, with each undertaking different types of individual projects.
Curt Reis, the secretary of the HyNoon Kiwanis for the past 10 years, said the 74-member organization has been heavily involved in the community. The group sponsors a local basketball jamboree each year, supports the local DARE and Officer Friendly programs in the Storm Lake and St. Mary's schools, and helps pay a large portion of the cost of maintenance at the Field of Dreams complex on the northwest side of town. Members also help organize one of the Taste of Storm Lake events in town every summer.
While participating in community service projects is not a requirement of HyNoon, Reis said it is encouraged, and members offer their support both monetarily and in man-hours.
"There are certain projects in which we provide only money, there are others in which we provide only manpower, and then there are some in which we provide both," Reis said.
The Storm Lake Beavers raised more than $12,000 for various community organizations last year, mainly through pancake and sausage breakfast fundraising events. The group also supports the Key Club at Storm Lake High School and has also established a scholarship to be used by graduating seniors from either Storm Lake or St. Mary's high schools.
Requist said the Beavers supply the manpower for the different fundraising events because it is a way they can help activities for area youth.
"We always try to lean toward the kids," Requist said. "Many of the things we do help benefit activities like DARE and different BV organizations like the swim team, which are things that kids participate in. We're glad to be able to help them out like that."
In addition to community projects in and around Storm Lake, the local Kiwanis groups also participate in charitable work on a national and international scale. One of the biggest projects the Beavers worked on this past year was an effort to help people in Africa receive needed iodine salt kits.
"I think we helped a lot of people with that, and that makes you feel good," Requist said. "It was definitely worth the hard work."
All three groups also help support Camp Olympia Kiwanis (OK), a camp for deserving fifth and sixth graders who would unable to attend camp without financial support from the Kiwanis. Money is also given to the Pediatric Trauma Kit project, and Builders Clubs, Key Clubs and Circle K clubs within District 6.
The trio of Storm Lake clubs also host many speakers ranging from high school coaches to Iowa Highway Patrol officers at their meetings, and Requist said those talks have been valuable to the Kiwanians.
"That's a fun thing for people, because the speakers talk about a variety of subjects that people might not get to listen to otherwise," Requist said. "It's good for people from around the area to hear what is going on in different areas like community activities, schools and local attractions."
Any man or woman older than 18 years old is eligible to join either HyNoon or the Beavers, while Golden Key members are typically of retirement age. The HyNoon club meets at the KC Hall at noon on Mondays, the Beavers meet at the Pantry at 7 a.m. on Mondays, and Golden Key meets at Lakeshore Cafe at 8 a.m. on Mondays.