In 1952, the Kiwanis Club of Independence joined 17 other area clubs-extending to Rocky River, Westlake and Brecksville, to form the 16th Ohio Division of Kiwanis International. Independence resident Bob Longano, of the Brecksville Kiwanis, was instrumental in recruiting Independence businessmen to found what has become one of the most active clubs in the now Kiwanis Ohio District 24th Division.
Many of the businessmen who gathered at Broglio's Restaurant were life-long residents of the area-many of whose families still reside here. The group included Mel Kurtz, Ken Feick, Pete Wisnieski, George Bender, Forrest Bramley, Frank Bousi and Henry Merkle. The Kiwanis Club of Independence was chartered on January 17, 1952 with the club's first meeting held at the home of George Bender with Dr. Herkle presiding. It was at this meeting that officers and board of directors were selected. With "Young Children-Priority One" being the emphasis of the club, we have sponsored the Key Club at the high school (1952), the Builders Club at the middle school (1997), K-Kids at St. Michael's (2006), Builders Club at St. Michael's (2007), K-Kids at the primary school (2008) and most recently we co-sponsor a Circle K at Tri-C downtown campus (2015). These clubs are an active part of the Kiwanis family.
Our community service activities are still being enjoyed by our residents on daily basis. The club built the band stand (1984) that proudly stands in the square and is enjoyed by all during band concerts and Home Days alike; the gazebo (1990) on the corner of Selig Drive and Brecksville Road is a favorite for wedding photos; the Land Lab (1970) on the school property is enjoyed today by the students of the Independence schools; the original Kiwanis pavilion in Elmwood Park and the city's first Bocci Courts (1977) were completed by club. These projects are a small number of projects that the club completed over its 65 plus years.
Each year the club holds its annual Easter Egg Hunt, Fishing Derby and Santa Delivery. Not only do the children of Independence enjoy these annual events, but the Kiwanians themselves can't wait to see the children's faces.
Our fundraising over the years have included our annual Pancake Breakfast, spring and fall BBQ's, Golf Outing, and Home Days. It is because of these fundraisers and the continued support of our community that we are able to provide scholarships to graduating seniors.
The Kiwanis Club of Independence has a bright future! There is still so much that has to be done. Our club's focus will remain on children and family. We will strive to uphold the Objects of Kiwanis International which still holds true today. Whether it's a need in the schools, home, or in the city, Kiwanis will be there to give its support. Bringing the community together whether through an activity, fundraiser or community project our goal is to enhance "the true community spirit".