Column: Civic Clubs Do Great Work in the Aiken Community | Opinion columns

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I earned another title last week when I was named president of the Kiwanis club of Aiken.

It’s that time of year for some clubs and civic organizations that follow the federal government’s fiscal year calendar of October 1 through September 30. Finish the old and make way for the new.

Hold your applause; there is no money in my new position, i can just chair meetings and help shape the direction of the club.

In case you didn’t know, Kiwanis is a “global volunteer organization dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.”

Maybe you participated in our golf tournament or had one of your children in one of the Kiwanis-sponsored service leadership programs at area schools. It’s K-Kids (elementary), Builders Clubs (middle school), Key Clubs (high schools), and Circle K (middle school).

You may remember the annual tricycle races held in downtown Aiken and other locations. It was a Kiwanis event.

I have been part of Kiwanis for over 30 years, but not consecutively. This is my second stint with the Aiken club; I joined the team when I was a young editor at Aiken Standard and even served a term as chairman in the mid-1990s.

I eventually left the club because I had taken a job at Augusta and my schedule did not allow me to attend weekly meetings at Aiken.

But, as the saying goes, “just when I thought I was out, they brought me back inside”. The Palmetto Kiwanis Club, which included my parents and my sister, allowed me to get involved again in the organization. This club featured an annual car show at the Aiken Mall.

This club disbanded a few years ago, but my sister and I, along with a few others, joined the Aiken club. This move coincided with my return to work at Aiken Standard. The newspaper has a strong tradition of having its publisher and editor involved in civic clubs.

The Kiwanis Club of Aiken has been in existence for 50 years. People like BT Barnes, Joe DeVore, Mike Anaclerio, Guy Hill and Deidre Martin to name a few have helped make this a successful club. Some longtime Kiwanians, such as Buzz Rich, Bob Barnett and Scott Singer, are still active with the club.

Civic clubs are an American institution that may have reached its peak a few decades ago. In the good old days before the internet and social media, they were a great way to network with other members of the community. Many also had a charity component. This made it easy for companies to justify sending (and paying) their employees to participate.

We are fortunate in Aiken County to have many vibrant civic clubs that do a ton of good work for the community. Just look for the sign near the airport on US 1 when you come into town; it touts such as Sertoma, Knights of Columbus, Lions, Masons, Jaycees, Rotary, Kiwanis, and the Marine Corps League. And that’s just a small sample of the dozens of organizations doing good deeds.

One of our Kiwanians, Bill Tyler, helped put up a roof and stain the woodwork to give the original project, done by a local Eagle Scout, a facelift. It’s no surprise that Tyler was honored as our Kiwanian of the Year at Thursday night’s banquet for all his volunteer work, done with good humor.

In closing – the two words most people want to hear in a speech – I might have buried the lede on this column. The intention was to let you know that we have many great civic clubs doing wonderful things in the community, and the Aiken Standard is happy to publish this. If you have photos, press releases or want to publish meetings in the calendar, just send them to [email protected]

How’s that for an “offer you can’t refuse?”

Thanks for reading.

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