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The Kiwanis Club of Sanford-Lake Mary is a charitable force in our own backyard

The new Sanford-Lake Mary chapter of Kiwanis International recently gathered for an evening meeting at Patio Grill in Sanford. Visitors were welcomed, as were members old and new, and everyone was updated on the club’s many service projects. Considering all the good this club does in our community, the update was a tall order. 

With the merging of the Sanford and Lake Mary Kiwanis chapters last year, members are now meeting and collaborating as one to make a difference. And, for those looking to get involved in the community, they always welcome more help.

President Lisa Hackbarth says there may be some misunderstanding that Kiwanians meet only for breakfast. Many Kiwanis Clubs do meet in the morning, including the former Sanford club, but the now-combined group of more than 25 members offers some breakfast meetings, evening monthly meetings, and meetups and service events at various times of day. Its members are full-time workers, retired executives, area newcomers, and parents of young kids. 

In short, Kiwanis has something for everyone.

Several of the members, like Lisa, work at Scholastic Book Fairs in Lake Mary. 

“I like that I have access to service projects and with people that I know,” says Lisa. “I can go and volunteer with my friends with Kiwanis.”
In fact, the Florida Kiwanis district is one of the largest and most successful within the global service organization.

The name Kiwanis means we share our talents and is derived from a Native American expression. Among Kiwanis goals: “A more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship; higher social, business, and professional standards; and daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships.”

Terrific Work

Many Kiwanis programs are designed to help children. One of those, Terrific Kids, is a student-recognition service program. It applauds those who have completed goals set with their teacher regarding issues like attendance, character development, and classroom perseverance. In Sanford’s Goldsboro and Pine Crest elementary schools, Kiwanis and Scholastic Book Fairs team up to host regular Terrific Kids celebrations, where select children get prizes such as books, ice cream, certificates, and stickers.

Kiwanis volunteers can also be found sorting clothing and toiletry donations, making lunch for Ronald McDonald House families in Orlando, and donating an oversized chess set to Pine Crest Elementary School. These projects help the community and spark bonds among members.
“There is a networking component to Kiwanis and a social part, too,” says Lisa. “A part of our club meets for breakfast twice a month. We kept that tradition from the Sanford meetings. There is definitely a social component, and we’ve introduced a social happy hour.”

The joint club now volunteers at the City of Sanford’s Golden Age Games. Winners go on to the Florida Senior Games State Championship.
“Most of our members were record keepers there,” says Lisa, with events such as archery, swimming, and basketball held in locations all over Lake Mary and Sanford. 

Teaming up to read to pre-K and kindergarten children is another way Kiwanis members make a difference in schools. Led by former teacher Rebekah Richey, the Sanford-Lake Mary club also organizes a first-grade reading tutoring program called RAP (Reading Acceleration Program) for students who may be struggling. 

Local Kiwanians also created a Reading Oasis room at Goldsboro Elementary, were kids can sit in beanbag chairs and read to their hearts’ content.

Members’ reasons for getting involved are as varied as the great causes Kiwanis supports. 

Jim Sutton of Lake Mary, for instance, recently retired as a software engineer and wants to stay busy. Jenni Perrault and Laura Beets of Scholastic Book Fairs also enjoy being involved. Laura is the former secretary of the Sanford chapter. Jerry Posey of Lake Mary likes to see old friends at Kiwanis meetings and events.

Mary Wrablica is a Sanford resident, a “snowbird from New York,” she says, who joined Kiwanis to meet people in this area.
She now volunteers with the club’s reading group.

“It’s probably the best part of my week,” Mary says. 

The Sanford-Lake Mary Kiwanis Club meets on the first Thursday of each month at Patio Grill in Sanford at 6:30 p.m. New members are welcome.

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