Brief History of Kiwanis International
"We Build" Kiwanis was founded in Detroit, Michigan on Jan. 21, 1915. On Nov. 1916, the first Canadian Club was organized in Hamilton, Ontario. The same year, the name "Kiwanis Club was adopted at a meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. The name Kiwanis is a coined word taken from the language of an American Indian tribe which lived in the area where Kiwanis was founded. The original phrase was "Nunc Keewanis." It means "self expression," or "to make oneself known." It was shortened and modified to become "Kiwanis. "Kiwanis grew simultaneously in the U.S. and Canada for almost half a century before the decision was made in 1961 to expand into other nations of the world. Clubs were formed in 1962 in Mexico and the Bahamas. Since then, Kiwanis has extended into the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, and lands between. Additional nations continue to join the Kiwanis International family as clubs are organized each year on a worldwide basis.
Kiwanis is a worldwide service organization appealing to those who have the desire to become personally involved in making their communities better places in which to live. As a group, we achieve what individuals cannot do alone. Working together, Kiwanians voluntarily share the challenge of the community improvement and leadership assuming personal responsibility for humanitarian and civic projects that public authorities are not prepared to or able to perform. These projects are predominantly local in nature. They include such activities as assistance to youth and the aging, conservation of natural resources, development of community facilities and creation of international understanding and goodwill. Whatever their goals may be, Kiwanians are motivated by a common desire to serve, and to achieve an appreciation of good fellowship.
The heart of Kiwanis is the club itself. Each club is composed of people in a wide variety of occupations, representing the active forces of the community. Each Kiwanis Club has officers and directors as prescribed by the bylaws of the club. These officers and directors compromise the Board of Directors, the administration body of the club. Clubs perform their community service work and their internal administration through standing committees. Each member is assigned to one or more of these, depending upon his particular desires and aptitudes. All Kiwanis clubs are organized according to a standard basic plan. Each club has great freedom in developing its own service projects, fund raising activities, meeting procedures, customs, and character. Each club, through its own imagination and growth, lends flavor and excitement to the entire Kiwanis to its own nation and aptitudes.