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Kishwaukee Kiwanis club marking 50 years of service

DeKALB – Kishwaukee Kiwanis will celebrate 50 years of service with a brunch at Faranda’s on Sept. 29. Members will be honored and those who have passed on will be remembered.

The club started in 1969, when a group of men from the Kiwanis Club of DeKalb decided they needed to meet during the lunch hour on Wednesdays. With the DeKalb club’s sponsorship, a new club was chartered on Sept. 30 and the Kiwanis Club of Kishwaukee DeKalb was created with 38 members. Three charter members, Herb Buhr, Max Heidi and Gordon Melms, still are active.

As all Kiwanians are, this group has been committed to serving the children of the world and especially the DeKalb community, through funding and service. Membership has fluctuated over the years attaining a high of 93 members with a current membership of 44.

The first club president was Ralph Sherman. There have been nine Kishwaukee Kiwanians who have served as Lt. Governors with the first being Bob Hickman in 1971. One member, Don Merwin, served the post twice.

In 1987, Kiwanis International allowed women to join for the first time. Kishwaukee Kiwanis’ first female member was Janet Byrnes in 1991. The first female president was Pat LaVigne in 1999, and she also was the first woman Lt. Governor in 2001. Two members, Amy Polzin and Paul Stoddard, both served twice as president of the club.

Kishwaukee Kiwanis serves the DeKalb community and surrounding areas by sponsoring the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Bike Path and Kishwaukee Kiwanis Park. The club also provides two annual scholarships to DeKalb High School students.

Within the Kiwanis family, the club sponsors the Aktion Club of Opportunity House helping disabled adults and the NIU Circle K club mentoring college students.

The club also has created the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Service Leadership Award, which supplies funds to the DeKalb County Community Foundation for distribution as needed. Funds also are distributed by the club to many organizations throughout the DeKalb area.

For more than 25 years, Kishwaukee Kiwanis ran one of the first Haunted Houses in DeKalb. Children from across the area would come to be scared and collect treats at the end. Cooking corn at Corn Fest and hawking peanuts on Peanut Day are always fun and bring in more funds. For the past 21 years, the club has sponsored Biking With Beanzie in July netting on average $8,000 a year to support the bike path, green spaces and other charities.

Anyone interested in joining Kishwaukee Kiwanis for lunch is always welcome. The club meets the second, third, fourth and fifth (if applicable) Wednesday of each month. Meetings are from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Faranda’s Banquet Center, 302 Grove St. in DeKalb.

For information, visit or email

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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