Help Your Community by Joining a Service Club
When I was a student at Charleston High School in Charleston, W.Va., I was a member of student council and had received an invitation to attend a special Kiwanis organization-sponsored lunch. I did not know what this meant until I arrived at the lunch. (I was in for a pleasant surprise.)
Along with my classmates, I immediately became a member of a new Key Club. This was a high school service club sponsored by Kiwanis, an organization dedicated to helping the community. I always wanted to help others but did not have a forum to do this effectively. Many of us had not belonged to a service organization previously, so we enjoyed the experience of helping our community in this new way.
According to Wikipedia:
A service club or service organization is defined as a voluntary nonprofit organization where members meet regularly to perform charitable works either by direct hands-on efforts or by raising money for other organizations. A service club is defined firstly by its service mission, and secondly, its membership benefits, such as social occasions, networking and personal growth opportunities that encourage involvement.
Historically, most service clubs consist of community-based groups that share the same name, goals, membership requirements and meeting structure. The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed in 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney [...] The Rotary name was derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices.
Many service clubs were started early in the 20th century, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Apex Clubs of Australia, Altrusa International, JCI, Civitan International, Sertoma, Exchange, Optimists, Soroptimists, Zonta and Quota International. A new generation of service clubs includes HandsOn Network, BEAN and DoSomething.org.
Many service clubs, such as Rotary International and Kiwanis International, have local clubs around the world. Kiwanis has several hundred thousand members. Rotary has more than 1.2 million members, composed of neighbors, friends and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world. For many of these organizations, their missions are international, national, regional, statewide or local in scope. They serve people from birth until death with an array of programs.
There are many benefits to becoming a service-club volunteer, including giving back to the community, making new friends who have a variety of interests, listening weekly to speakers who are community thought leaders, engaging in social activities and business-networking. You get out what you put into it.
For nonprofit pros, there is also another very important benefit.
I am a member of the Downtown Indianapolis Kiwanis Club. A number of my Kiwanis brothers and sisters serve on my Salvation Army advisory board and related volunteer organizations because they love the mission of service beyond Kiwanis. In addition, each Christmas, many Kiwanis and Downtown Indianapolis Rotary members volunteer to ring bells for The Salvation Army in a friendly competition. The Salvation Army is blessed to have hundreds of volunteers each year, and many of these volunteers are service-club members.
I especially ask younger members of the community to join a service club. I learned in high school what a joy I received from serving others. Younger generations bring energy, enthusiasm, new ideas and different perspectives. They also provide growth, plus future sustainability of service organizations, many of which struggle with primarily having an older group of members. I know for a fact these clubs seek diversity and welcome new recruits every day.
Seek to join any service organization by finding a local club on the Internet. Visit a club with a friend, and align your passion with a club that has a mutual mission. In the end, our communities win with your service club involvement. Why not make the decision to join a service club today? Your club is waiting for you!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.