From fundraising for victims of Hurricane Katrina to establishing service-oriented clubs at East Meadow’s two high schools – the East Meadow Kiwanis club has impacted and helped countless people during its 60-year existence.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this past April, the club was chartered on April 29, 1952. East Meadow’s Kiwanis started off with 54 members, led by President “Iron” Mike Kostynick, and met in what was formerly Keyhole Tavern – now The number of members has now grown to 140, making it the club the largest in the New York District.
Their first fundraiser was for a family whose house burnt down. “It was the first time we put our heads together as a community service organization,” said current President Mitchell Allen.
The 60th anniversary celebration began at Kiwanis’ installation dinner last October, where all living past presidents were invited up to be honored with a “brief summary of what they did during their year,” Allen said.
Additionally, during the charter month of April, Kiwanis ran their weekly meetings at different locations where they have historically held meetings in the past. The meetings were each run by a past president, who had the opportunity to reminisce, talk about their history, and educate new members.
“We finished it off on the actual anniversary day with a breakfast at the fire house,” Allen added.
Over the years, Kiwanis has instituted well-known service programs including the pancake breakfast, Pride Day, annual golf outing, monthly bingo at A. Holly Patterson Nursing Home in Uniondale, renovating dugouts at the East Meadow baseball fields, and the senior citizens’ Thanksgiving dinner, as well as countless others.
“[The Thanksgiving dinner] is a program that I personally chair where we feed senior citizens in the gym,” said Allen, adding that last year was the 30th anniversary of that particular project. “We feed them a complete Thanksgiving dinner at no cost. We feed between 400 and 500 senior citizens every year.”
The club began funding Kamp Kiwanis – an upstate retreat for needy children – in the 1960s. Continuing the tradition of assisting the camp, they built two cabins on the campgrounds with funds raised by the club in the 1990s.
Kiwanis also prides itself on distributing food baskets to approximately 125 needy families during holidays, hosting a dinner party for needy families on Christmas day at , and providing scholarships to local students each year.
Looking towards the future, Allen said that they want to grow their membership because “it is a critical part of the health of our organization.”
“Our organization was created in the early 50s. A lot of [the original members] have passed on and moved on and away. We need to continue to grow our organization and bring more young people into the equation…We are just trying to get some new blood, fresh concepts and ideas into the organization and continue to grow and be healthy.”
He added that they would continue to be a “strong advocate in the community.”