Fun Through Service

For years, members of Kiwanis International have been ­— to borrow from the organization’s mission statement — “dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.”

That seemed like a good enough reason to join Worthington’s Noon Kiwanis Club several years back, and I’ve never regretted that decision. When I was initially recruited by then-WREDC Manager (and now Bioverse head) Glenn Thuringer, I had a small fear that Kiwanians sat around tables in funny hats, sang funny songs, chanted odd sayings and raised money for charity. Well, it turns out I was maybe half-right; we do sing some funny songs (and some of them are sung funny) and we raise money, but the hats and chants are non-existent (though I suppose, to some degree, optional).

Through the years, I’ve had the fortune of serving on the Noon Kiwanis board and even at its president. (Surprisingly, our good club survived my tenure). And, during that time, we’ve been able to add some great new members along the way who have energy, ideas and the commitment to make a difference. Though “changing the world” may be a stretch, most Noon Kiwanians would probably like to believe that we do make some small degree of difference in our community, and that our goal should be to continue fulfilling that goal as much as possible.

Just the other day, many of us had fun and hopefully did something positive and impactful at the same time. We usually meet at noon Tuesday at Pizza Ranch, but instead of dining headed over to Prairie Elementary to read with kindergarteners. I won’t speak for all of us, but I know I had a blast.

Rotating between three different kindergarten classrooms, I was consistently reminded of two main things — how pleased a young child can be when he or she reads something correctly and is praised for it, and how happy kids can be when an adult they don’t know takes the time to spend merely a few minutes with them. In two of the classrooms, kids took turns reading to me; in the third, I got to do the reading.

Now, when I read stories to my kids, I sometimes feel the overwhelming urge to turn it into some kind of performance, depending on energy level and how close it is to bedtime. So on Tuesday, when presented with the opportunity to read the Dr. Seuss classics “Hop on Pop” and “Green Eggs and Ham” to a small audience (one that, happily, included my son), I attempted to have fun with it. I got a few laughs as well as a few stares of complete bafflement — those “you’re weird!” sort of expressions — but all in all I think the audience I enjoyed themselves.

That afternoon, Noon Kiwanis President Jessica Noble sent an email to club members thanking them for their participation, adding that she’d heard that many had already expressed appreciation for us coming. I guess I’d like to think that if teachers and students alike were pleased our club made such an effort, that they, too, would be moved to do something similar at some point and — in that way — make a difference.

Anyone can join Kiwanis — and anyone can help change the world, one child and one community at a time. They can also have no shortage of fun while doing it.