Kiwanis is an international service club focused on supporting and empowering youth.
A group of community members have joined together to begin the process to form a Hillcrest chapter of Kiwanis International. The chapter is being named the "Kiwanis Club of Hillcrest All-Inclusive" to make it clear that everyone is welcome to participate in the chapter, no matter their background or identity.
The Kiwanis International website describes the organization as such:
Kiwanis International is a global community of clubs, members and partners dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time. Today, we stand with more than 550,000 members from K-Kids to Key Club to Kiwanis and many ages in between in 80 countries and geographic areas. Each community has different needs, and Kiwanis empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of children, such as fighting hunger, improving literacy and offering guidance. Kiwanis clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year.
Those who join the Hillcrest club will decide what the chapter's service projects and focus will be, including providing support to organization's that serve LGBTQ youth. Organizers have made it clear that while some may have the perception that the 100+ year old organization's membership is comprised of mostly older men, that has greatly changed and Kiwanis' ranks have become quite diverse. Kiwanis is looking forward to welcoming anyone who wants to get involved and has a passion to serve the community.
A Hillcrest chapter of Kiwanis did exist in the 1960s and one of the club's activities was sponsoring a monkey exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. A Mission Hills-Hillcrest branch also operated in the early 1980s but it has now been nearly 35 years since Kiwanis had a presence in Uptown. There are 48 club chapters in the greater San Diego region.
An introductory meeting was held Monday night, and for those who were unable to participate, another meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm on Zoom. There is no obligation to join by attending the meeting, however participants will learn more about the organization and how to join if they decide they are interested.
Well-known local LGBTQ community members such as Benny Cartwright, Neill Kovrig, and Gina Roberts are participating in the new chapter's formation. Cartwright participated in Kiwanis' youth programs in junior high through college; Kovrig was a past-president of the Lake San Marcos Kiwanis Club; and Roberts is currently the Lt. Governor for Kiwanis Division 37.
Along with community service, Kiwanis is known for its fellowship and organizers encourage those looking to make new friends and meet others to also consider joining. The organization welcomes everyone to learn more, and hopes to gain 15 members in the first month so the club can be formally chartered.
For more information or to register interest, fill out this form.
The Kiwanis Club of Hillcrest All-Inclusive can be found on Facebook here.