History of Kiwanis International

The organization was founded on January 21, 1915, in Detroit, Michigan, by Joseph G. Prance (a tailor) and Allen S. Browne (a professional fraternity organizer). In August 1914, Browne suggested to Prance the idea of a business and professional men's club with social and commercial benefits. Prance was sold on the idea, and in 1915 the Kiwanis Club of Detroit, Michigan, was founded.

Its original purpose was to exchange business between members and to serve the poor. The debate as to whether or not to remain a networking organization or a service organization was resolved in 1919 when Kiwanis adopted a service-focused mission. The organization was for men only until 1987 and since then female membership has grown to be 22% of total members

In 2007, the charitable financial arm, Kiwanis International Foundation, was awarded the top rating by an independent evaluator.

The name “Kiwanis” means “we trade” or “we share our talents” and was coined from an American Indian expression, Nunc Kee-wanis.


History of Kiwanis Australia

The first club in Australia was the Melbourne Club and was officially organized on 2nd October 1967. In 1994/95 Ian Perdriau member of the Melbourne Club became the first International President elected outside North America.

There are 68 clubs in Australia with a total of about 1000 members in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


History of Kiwanis East Maitland

The Kiwanis Club of East Maitland was officially organized on 21 January 1980, being the first club in the Hunter Valley. That means we have been serving the community of Maitland for 38 years.

  • In 1984 the Kiwanis Club of East Maitland was instrumental in the development of the Safety House Scheme in the Hunter area donating $1200 and putting up the original signs and stickers in the East Maitland area.
  • Kiwanis helped establish and grow “Special Olympics” within the Hunter Valley.
  • Annually members collect for Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal and the Red Cross door knock.
  • Members sell merchandise on behalf of the Starlight Foundation on Starlight Day and HeartKids on Sweetheart Day.
  • A particularly heartwarming effort was the sponsoring of the "Pink and White Ball" and more recently the "Over The Rainbow Ball", debutante balls held for young adults with disabilities.
  • Major fundraising efforts have realized the purchase of a hydraulic lift bed for the children’s ward at Maitland Hospital and the granting of a wish for a local child through the Starlight Foundation
  • In 2010 Kiwanis International joined with UNICEF to raise US$110 million to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide. Our club raised significate funds to assist with the 44 countries identified as being Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus free. Between 1996 and 2000 substantial money was donated the IDD run project also in conjunction with UNICEF. Iodine Deficiency Disorder causes dwarfism, cretinism and mental retardation in mostly third world countries. By adding Iodine to salt, this disorder is almost non existent today. 
  • Kiwanis raised funds for a playground for the local woman’s refuge “Carries Place” and also repainted the whole of the interior of the building.
  • Funding the initial ground works for the Riding For Disabled sensory garden.
  • Each year local primary school children make Mothers Day Cards and members hand them out with a flower to residents at Maitland Nursing Homes.
  • Kiwanis Australia District support research into heart defects in babies. HeartKids is a support group for families of children born with congenital heart defects.
  • Young Children Priority One is our pledge - our club has a strong link with several schools by: supporting programs to recognise achievement; creating garden and play areas.
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