One child, one community at a time

Kiwanis Pancake Breakfasts are a 50-year tradition. Preparing orange juice for the event at the Bay Middle School are Kiwanians Clint Keener (left) and Russ Bauknecht. Photo by Tom Johnson.

When I was in my prime, women couldn’t belong to the 100-year-old Kiwanis  Club. In the mid-1980s, the organization changed and women were encouraged to join and to bring their spouses with them. Lately, it is becoming a husband-and-wife commitment. I recently spoke with Linda Potter, who is an active member of the Bay Village club with her husband, Jim. Linda said that husband-and-wife teams will be the future of Kiwanis.

Linda and Jim are the first couple to join the local group. She wants to encourage other couples to do the same. She loves to have the pleasure of giving back to the community by working side-by-side with Jim on a project. The Bay Village Kiwanis has 44 members, seven of which are women.

In my experience, no matter what community project is announced, the Kiwanis Club steps up to help. In 2014 alone they donated to the Bay Village Foundation Clock Repair fund, Cahoon Park exercise equipment and Play in Bay. They also sponsor scholarships and the Key Club at the high school.

I was reminded of their generosity recently when I read a quote of Maya Angelou who said, “I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." I couldn’t help but think of the Kiwanis Club and how its members give back to our community. How generous they are with time and money. I’m most impressed by the community surge when help is needed. 

I’ve never been a member, but our contributions to everything from pancake breakfasts to buying curly fries at Bay Days go to serve the needs of our community. Our good friend used to stand out in the cold year after year selling Christmas trees. When I commented about his age and his health and asked why he puts himself through all of that, he said, "That's what we do!" We do it for Bay Village." His dedication was remarkable but, I've learned, not unusual. Kiwanians don’t only donate money, they are right in there, rolling up their sleeves and doing the work. For example, they put a tremendous effort each year planning and staffing Bay Days. What a commitment!

Their motto is: "Make the world a better place, one child and one community at a time." The more I get to know members of the group the better I can see this altruistic purpose is alive and well.

Since 1950, Bay Village Kiwanis has been been building community, one project at a time. Bay Kiwanis currently has 44 members, six are women and Allen Waddle is president. Linda Potter tells me that they enthusiastically welcome new members and that spouses enjoy half-price membership. Individuals and couples that want to get to know those in our community that give back – and that want to help them – should consider joining Kiwanis.

If you don’t want go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands, there is a dinner meeting every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on the lower level of Bay United Methodist Church. To learn more, visit the group's Facebook page or email

Eileen Vernon

Trustee of The Bay Village Foundation. Retired lawyer. Resident of Bay Village for over 32 years.

Read More on Community Service
Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.17.2015