History of our Longboat Key Kiwanis Club
The club began with the issuance of a charter on May 16, 1972 from Kiwanis International, Indianapolis, Indiana. Originally known as the Kiwanis Club of the Sarasota Keys, it celebrated this charter with a gala at the Lido Holiday Inn, attended by thirty-one charter members, and sponsors from the Downtown Sarasota Kiwanis.
Early projects included raising funds for the purchase of an EKG machine for Longboat’s first ambulance, working to secure a bicycle path the length of the island, working with Meals on Wheels, and various community support projects.
In 1974, the Club got involved in what was then known as Fame Charities, Inc., specifically the Fame Nursery. It supported the operation of a day care nursery for infant children of migrant farm workers. It was funded by the sale of poinsettia plants during the holiday season. Club members donated 3500 man hours to plant, cultivate and sell poinsettias throughout the area, raising $15,000 net profit, which was used by the Fame organization to construct a shelter care home for abused, abandoned and neglected children. Known as Fame House, it cared for 88 such children in its first year. Ultimately, this project of Kiwanis labor and funds led to the creation of Fame Haven in 1977, which by this period had taken on helping children ages 12 to 16. In subsequent years, this would become first Children’s Haven, and ultimately be known as Community Haven. Over its existence, Kiwanis has provided support to youth at this facility.
In 1980, the Club researched and selected the names of eleven prominent citizens who had contributed to the development and well-being of the community, on the occasion of the Town of Longboat Key’s 25th anniversary of its chartering in 1955. The membership raised the funds to erect a sixty-foot flagpole with a bronze plaque at its base in their honor.
In the decade that followed, the club was instrumental in sponsoring the formation of the Longboat Historical Society, under the leadership of Kiwanis member Ralph Hunter, who was the Publisher of the Longboat Observer. Hunter would remain active in Kiwanis and the Historical Society, later selling the paper to a younger member of Kiwanis, Matt Walsh.
Significant events during the 1990’s included another flagpole and flag to fly over Joan M. Durante Community Park. The land for the park had been purchased by member James Durante, and presented to the town in honor of the memory of his beloved wife. During this period, the club continued to support Children’s Haven and the creation of an AKtion Club at that facility. The AKtion Club is a Kiwanis service leadership project (SLP) for developmentally disabled youth and adults. At the end of the decade, the Club changed it’s name from Kiwanis Club of the Sarasota Keys, to Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key. A new luncheon club, the Siesta Key Kiwanis Club would evolve, becoming a sister club on a nearby island.
In 2005, a multiple year project to gain Federal recognition of former Club President and island luminary, Lieutenant General Jim Edmundson, led to the naming of the LBK Post office as the Lt. General James V. Edmundson Post Office. With thanks to then Congresswoman Katherine Harris, an island resident, this was accomplished in the 108th Congress. Harris would later be recognized as one of many LBK Citizen’s of the Year.
Also in 2005, Kiwanis would be approached by one of its members, Arthur Falls, to take over the administration of a “welcome back luncheon” known by many as the “St Jude Luncheon”. Falls, in addition to owning several stores on the island, and a member of the “citizens committee” which had sponsored this event over the prior two decades, told the club members “without someone to step up, this will end because our group is aging and no new blood has come to sustain the event”. Kiwanis stepped up, and over the following years morphed the event into the Gourmet Lawn Party, moving it from the Temple parking lot to a much larger venue at the Longboat Key “Island-Side” golf driving range, increasing the size of the event in number of participants and sponsors. It also would become the Kiwanis of Longboat Key’s premier fund raising opportunity. In 2012, an 80x80 foot tent accommodated diners who paid $25 to sample the fares of thirty (30) local restaurants from our island, nearby St Armand’s Key and Anna Maria Island .
The Longboat Key Kiwanis Foundation
The Kiwanis of Longboat Key Foundation was incorporated in February of 1981, and received it’s IRS Determination Letter of tax-exemption in December of 1982. With that designation as a 501(c)(3), donors would be able to deduct contributions that would be tax deductible to them, thus making altruistic giving even more attractive.
Our LBK Kiwanis Foundation derives income from fund raising projects, like the Gourmet Lawn Party, Valentine’s Dinner Dance, and others from time to time. It collects Happy Dollars each meeting, where members donate one dollar and have an opportunity to talk about why they’re happy that day. Our club also asks for, and often receives, one dollar for every year of age on the members birthday, and if married on their anniversary. Some members will also make donations to the Foundation to honor the memory of others, and we also have members who have matching dollars from their work (or former work as retirees). In 2012, the Foundation holdings totaled over $300,000, with a Tax Code obligation to expend no less than five percent (5%) annually. In recent years, the club has routinely raised and awarded over Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) to support local youth in need through scholarships to individuals and grants to youth oriented non-profit organizations. The Club has standing committees to solicit, evaluate, and award these dollars, using the Foundation as the giving vehicle. All Kiwanis Clubs are encouraged to have a Foundation that parallels membership and complements the Club itself. The Foundation has a separate Board of Directors, drawn from club membership.
Significant Other Projects and Events
The official Kiwanis year begins on October 1st, and runs through the following September 30th, with new officers taking office and being sworn by a Lt. Governor of the division. Kiwanis of Longboat Key is part of Division Eighteen North, and Siesta Key clubs in addition to Longboat Key. Officers are selected by elections held the preceding May. Club by-laws are periodically updated by the Kiwanis International (K.I.) organization, and adopted by local clubs, which vote on local policies and procedures, which then are approved by the membership, and reviewed and accredited by K.I. in Indianapolis to maintain their charters.
Officers are President, President-Elect , Secretary and Treasurer. A board of from three (3) minimum directors, to a greater number determined by the club (policies) make up the leadership, with a similar set-up for the Foundation, but with different members as directors. The Chairman of our Foundation generally is the prior years’ Club President. The incoming Club President is also the Project Leader on the major fundraiser.
Dues from the International go to that organization and the Florida District, made up of 27 regional divisions. International dues are $95, with a one-time initiation fee of $75. This provides the member with an official publication, pins, and membership materials. The official website of the International is www.KiwanisOne.Org. Our club has a website www.kiwanislbk.com which also is where our newsletter is published, and a Facebook page as well.
The Gourmet Lawn Party (formerly known as the St. Jude Luncheon) is generally held the first Saturday in December of the year, and kicks off the project cycle. It is followed by Salvation Army Bell Ringing at the local Publix Supermarket, from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Kiwanis of Longboat Key organizes this activity, which also draws volunteers from other clubs and local citizenry. Often, locals learn about Kiwanis during these 75-minute shifts, and become new members.
In January, we re-group and prepare for the annual Pancake Breakfast in March. Our fund-raisers benefit the operating expenses of the Club and the Foundation. In March, individuals within the club often get involved in Food Pantry collection campaigns, benefitting the All Faiths Food Bank of Sarasota.
While our club is known as a “Y’all come, we don’t go much” type organization, from time to time we round up members for Inter-Club visitations. These include going to the other clubs in the division (all lunch clubs), or the annual division Prayer Breakfast, or the AKtion Club officer installation, where we are a prime sponsor. Our club has a reputation for good food at a great price, so we see lots of visitors.
During the second half of the millennial decade, leadership under Bob Gault as President, Jim Larson as Treasurer, and John Wild as Secretary, refined the mission of the organization by the creation of the following statement:
“The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key is dedicated to providing support, both volunteer and financial, primarily to local Manasota area children and young people in need, through scholarships and tax exempt organization grants”.
The statement was further footnoted by “This mission is accomplished through Kiwanis Club of LBK Foundation, in compliance with the IRS Code, from business and individual donations, fund raising event proceeds and earnings from the Foundation’s perpetual fund portfolio of investments”.
In recent years, scholarships are awarded to local Manatee and Sarasota (hence the term “Manasota”) County residents attending Florida institutions of higher education, both university and technical schools. While the scholarships go primarily to youth over 18, grants have been awarded to local organizations serving children from day care through high school (high risk) programs.
Meetings and Programs
In October of 2017, the club returned to its historical roots, and became a luncheon group on the third Thursdays of every month. They meet at noon, at Portofina Restaurant at the Marina off Harbourside Drive, mid-key. In addition, on the first Thursday of every month, they gather at 5 PM at Court 21, located within the Tennis Gardens of the Longboat Key Club. To get to these locations, go to Bay Isles traffic light, turn east, and tell the gate guard you’re attending Kiwanis. Turn left at the T for Tennis, turn right at the T for Lunch at the Marina.
History of the International
From the beginning – Kiwanis was formed in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan, with credit for its founding attributed to Allen S. Browne of the motor city, It held a convention in 1920 and created the motto “We Build”. Following World War II, it placed its emphasis on local communities, with the theme “Freedom is not Free”. Ultimately it evolved into a “Serving the Children of the World” and as it grew into Europe (1963) and later Asia. Kiwanis International worked with UNICEF to stamp out IDD, Iodine Deficiency Disorders, the number one preventable cause of mental retardation in children. Having succeeded in this endeavor, today the challenge is the ELIMINATE project, which stands for eliminating Maternal Neo-Natal Tetanus.
Our club dedicated itself to serving local children in need during the Presidency of Robert Gault, a retired CEO of Universal Studios Orlando. In order to raise larger sums of money, he taught the concept of the “better guest experience” which has been witnessed during the move of the Gourmet Lawn Party to the Key Club’s golf driving range, where each succeeding year we’ve raised more funds for charity. In October 2013, Bob was awarded a Presidential Zeller award by Kiwanis International. His leadership as Club President 2010-2011 and his introduction of the Valentines Dinner Dance, brought the club to a new level. In mid-2014, another Presidential Zeller (named after KI luminary Walter Zeller) was awarded to John Wild, who succeeded Gault as President, and had served as Club Secretary and Lt. Governor.
The club as a whole, augmented by citizen volunteers, also is in charge of the Salvation Army “Bell Ringing” each holiday season. In the past five years, our club has earned honors as the Number One Kettle in terms of dollars donated in Sarasota County.
Past Presidents (In inverse order the club has been led by):
President-Elect Bob Gault October 2017
Steve Branham October 2016 to September 30, 2017
Joe Walsh October 2015 to September 30, 2016
Armando Linde October 2014 to September 30, 2015
Richard Crawford July 2013 to September 30, 2014 Zeller Fellow 2015
Jim Burmeister October 2012 t0 July 2013
John D. Wild October 2011 to September 2012 Zeller Fellow 2014
Robert Gault October2010 to September 2011 Zeller Fellow 2013
Robert Tucker October 2009 to September 2010
Vincent DeLisi October 2008 to September 2009
Matt Walsh October 2007 to September 2008
Kelly Kary October 2006 to December 2006
Samir Ragheb October 2005 to September 2006
Vincent DeLisi October 2004 to September 2005
Ron Johnson October 2003 to September 2004
Hal Lenobel October 2002 to September 2003
Cee Edmundson October 2001 to September 2002
Tom Fuorry October 2000 to September 2001
Paul E. Popp October 1999 to September 2000
Woody Wolver ton October 1998 to September 1999 Legion of Honor
Robert Twyman October 1997 to September 1998
William. J Kelley October 1996 to September 1997 Legion of Honor
Kennedy Legler Jr. October 1995 to September 1996
Michael Maloof October 1994 to September 1995
Richard W. Baum October 1993 to September 1994 Legion of Honor
Bernd Pasler October 1992 to September 1993
The first twenty years, from 1972-73 featured a number of men who were involved with issues on this island. Men like Joe Jenkins and Charles Andrews, the first President (72-73) and President Elect (73-74). Others would follow in this order, Ted Wilkinson, Emil Siefert, P. Wm. Robins, David Gruber, Wm S. Coleman, Robert Hainsfurther, George Paules. In 81-82, the club was led by Elmer Smith, followed by Sherwood Lorenze. Many had the honor of knowing retired Lt. Colonel Clarence H. Kemp, who was presented a 30 year honors pin in 2007. He was President in 83-84. Followed by Harvey P.. Barnard, Jr., then Hawoard Faull. In 1986, retired Lt. General James V. Edmundson took the helm, and the club was instrumental in getting our LBK Post Office named in his memory during 2005. In 1987, leadership passed to Jack Q. Goodrich, followed by Henry G. Ritter IV, Theodore F.G. Adair, William G. Swanson, and in 1991 Charles A. Rose. In it’s twentieth year (1992-1993), the club was led by Bernd (“Bernie”) Pasler. Vincent DeLisi served twice as President, first in October of 2004, and later in October 0f 2008.
The club today is meeting the challenge set out in its 25th year, when former President Ken Legler wrote in a Silver Anniversary publication “The members pictured here challenge those who will be members 20 odd years from this day to continue the Kiwanis motto – We Serve – and try to exceed the commitment of todays ((1997) members.”
With leadership already in place to take the helm over the next three years, we believe Mr. Legler would be pleased, Kiwanis is stronger with more young people and more women involved. The current generation of Kiwanis has gone beyond the past in terms of sponsoring a Key Club at Sarasota Military Academy, and a Circle K International at the New College of Florida, plus being the home club of the Division Past Lt. Governor. Our club will also be the home club of a division Trustee for the Florida District Foundation. LBK Kiwanians have reached out to help kids in Sarasota and Manatee, and will strive to be a top ten club in the future.