Greensburg Kiwanis Club small but mighty after 100 years
Members of the Greensburg Kiwanis Club like to say they’ve given to charities and organizations covering every letter of the alphabet except V and X.
Over the past century, beneficiaries of the club’s good works have included the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library, Clelian Heights School, Salvation Army, Blackburn Center, Adopt-a-Highway, Meals on Wheels, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, YMCA, YWCA, Westmoreland County Food Bank and local homeless shelters.
Although the Greensburg club is celebrating its centennial at a time of declining membership, its influence continues to be felt out of proportion to its size through scholarships, charitable donations and volunteerism, officers say.
For its 100th anniversary, the group will plant 100 trees in the Greensburg area in the coming year.
“I just think it’s a nice symbol of hope and beauty, and it’s good for the environment,” said club president Charlie Kaylor. “Trees are always appreciated.”
The “100 Trees for 100 Years” initiative will gear up in the spring, which will give the club time to identify locations and partners, Kaylor said. Kiwanis will provide the trees and tree protection.
“It’s a way to say thanks to the community,” he said.
The Greensburg Kiwanis Club was chartered in 1919, only four years after the founding of Kiwanis International. Like other service organizations, Kiwanis started as a way for businessmen to network, socialize and channel their philanthropic spirit.
When Kaylor joined in 1983, the Greensburg club had more than 100 members. Today, membership is around 18.
Even so, contributions to the community over the last 20 years have totaled about $300,000, said Bernadine “Bernie” Brazill, immediate past president.
Most of the Greensburg club’s giving and volunteer hours are geared toward helping children, she said. The club hosts an annual Christmas party at Clelian Heights, a school for children with developmental disabilities, conducts a Bicycle Safety Essay contest in local elementary schools, and distributes Jared Boxes to area Excela Health hospitals for chronically ill children.
Young people are not only Kiwanis beneficiaries but also benefactors. The Greensburg club has been able to cultivate interest from area high school and college students who are looking for volunteer hours and outlets for service.
After the demise of the Latrobe Kiwanis Club, the Greensburg club adopted the Greater Latrobe High School Key Club, which is 140 strong, Kaylor said. Key Club is the Kiwanis service organization for teenagers.
The Greensburg club also sponsors two Circle K Clubs at Saint Vincent College and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Circle K is the Kiwanis service organization for college students.
Greensburg club members hope that those high school and college students will stay involved with Kiwanis into adulthood.
“We’re trying to get our name out in the community,” Brazill said. “Most of our members are getting older. It’s harder to get the younger people to join things anymore.”
Brazill, 88, of Unity, joined the Greensburg club 21 years ago and has served in a variety of offices. She currently edits the club’s newsletter.
“I’ve had a good life,” Brazill said. “I’ve been lucky that I was never in need. I just wanted to pay back to the community and help. I just wanted to pass on to others what I’ve been so fortunate to have.”
The Greensburg club raises funds through ticket sales at the Westmoreland Fair, citrus fruit sales in January and a rose sale in October.
The group meets weekly at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday at The Boulevard, 900 Towne Square Drive, Greensburg.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .