Message from the President

Kiwanis President Message

It is said that the "third time is a charm". And in the coming University Kiwanis Club Year of October 1, 2023 through September 30, 2024, your new President hopes to have some "charm" in his third attempt to do justice as President of this Wichita Falls asset. The task is a "heavy lift" given the excellent leadership and efforts of former Presidents of this Club, especially, the immediate predecessor, Mr. Dennis Probst who has inspired all of us with his efforts and leadership. The club has had magnificent members since its inception in 1955 - at least one District Judge, a United States Senator, a County Judge, a District Attorney, successful entrepreneurs, and a plethora of amazing people coming together, freely giving of their time and talent in an effort to build a better community with a strong focus on children, not just locally, but worldwide. As just one example of the dedication of these individual Kiwanians, this President recalls the pride of the late Mr. Paul Irwin of his 55-year record of perfect attendance at his Kiwanis Clubs. Such a record speaks volumes as to the dedication of all our Kiwanis members. The world is in dire need of such dedication and such people who look beyond self. A great man once shared with me SAS - Service Above Self. A huge thank you is due to local Rotarian Jack Browne for sharing one great acronym.

Our club is one of approximately 8,500 Kiwanis clubs scattered about the globe in 80 different nations belonging to our umbrella organization, Kiwanis International. The combined efforts of these clubs result in raising over US $100 million annually, the Kiwanis and Kiwanis youth groups donating over 18 million volunteer hours, providing the "fuel" for over 150,000 service projects. The spirit of service and giving is alive in the hearts of all Kiwanians.

Locally our year will be a transitional one for our high school Key Clubs as the school district moves students into two beautiful new buildings. The historical support of the Key Clubs from Wichita Falls High School, Rider High School and Hirschi High School has been exemplary. We have every reason to believe that the spirit of service will move with the students onto the two new campuses as our club continues the support of and rapport with those service- and community-minded students. And as a very important aside, our club is extremely grateful for the faculty members who willingly assume the role of sponsoring these youth groups in their schools. Without those faculty volunteers, our campus youth groups cannot exist. I would be remiss if I did not offer the same kudos to those very active and involved Kiwanis Club members who spend so much time with our youth groups. Those members are the backbone of our relationship with our youth and they are very much appreciated. We have great plans to build the Circle K Club on the campus of Midwestern State University this year. In years past, our club has supported Circle K members with scholarship funds derived from our annual Pancake Festival on the last Saturday in January of each year. Be certain to write January 27, 2024 on your calendar to remind you to attend the best 'all-you-can-eat-pancakes' day on the face of the earth. The Pancake Festival is our club's only fundraiser. The Wichita Falls community has shown superb support for this event since 1955 when the first University Kiwanis pancakes were prepared by the late Mayor Winston Wallander in the Maskat Shrine facility with the support of the Shriner 'Exemplar' Pete Spoonts. A belated thank you to the Shriners for giving the University Kiwanis Club a great start. Our objectives are precisely aligned: Shriners and Kiwanians are all about the kids.

Our major project for the coming year is the installation of a 66 feet long triple-lane "zip line" in University Kiwanis Park on Southwest Parkway. The 33 feet two-lane zip line installed in 2021 has proven to be an extraordinarily popular addition. An active child is a healthier child and improvements to the park that encourage physical activity is a win for the child. Our club made our initial appearance in the Texoma Gives campaign in September of 2023 to raise funds for this project. If we can entice over 10,000 people to attend our Pancake festival in January, we will have the funds to make this project a reality.

It is axiomatic that "many hands make a light load". And so it is with our University Kiwanis Club. Our club continues to function and do great things, but we, and all civic clubs, need members, those special people who have embraced SAS. The average age of service club members continues to rise and mortality is a real factor. University Kiwanis needs young and energetic new members. Without them, like old soldiers, the legacy of the University Kiwanis Club "just fades away".

Our club meets every Wednesday at noon in the Fellowship Hall of the First Christian Church at 3701 Taft Boulevard and we will be ending our meetings promptly at 12:55 PM or earlier. We strive to have brief presentations by community speakers on topics of interest at each meeting. We would love to have you attend, perhaps even join our effort to build a better community and future for kids in Wichita Falls.

John E. Rhoads
President 2023-24

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