On a cool evening in September 1917, a small group of Ottawa business leaders met informally in the home of furniture dealer Alex Thurston to organize a local chapter of Kiwanis International, thus embarking on an incredible journey which continues today. For eight decades, members of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa have worked to make our city a better place in which to live.
The Kiwanis Club of Ottawa was the third Club to be organized in that geographic area now known as the Eastern Canada and the Caribbean District of Kiwanis. The first meeting was held on December 22, 1917, in the Chateau Laurier Hotel, where our club continues to meet to this day. On April 11, 1918, our club was granted a charter as the 74th Club of Kiwanis International.
Throughout the years we have sponsored 12 clubs from Pembroke to Cornwall and from Rideau to Georgetown, Guyana. Our club operated a camp for Diabetic children for 30 years - the first one of its kind in Canada. It continues to this day but now under the guidance and organization of the Canadian Diabetic Association.
In 1960 we instituted a fund for drugs to help relieve distress and financial burdens for sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis. Club members became involved and helped establish the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
We spearheaded the drive for funds for the original Grace Hospital and contributed $25,000 in 1967 towards the new addition as our club’s Centennial Project.
In 1986 we donated an additional $6,000 to help the Grace build a new wing to the hospital. We founded the Kiwanis Boys’ Club in 1924 - which later became the Ottawa Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa-Carleton and we continue to support them - including $25,000 to the Centretown Unit in 1977 and in the same year we pledged $100,000 to help build the Britannia Unit of the Club.
The needs of the various local hospitals have not gone unanswered - we have supported every local hospital in some way or another over the years - culminating with a $250,000 contribution to the Civic Hospital’s Catscan project - which became a joint project of every club in our city.
In 1980 a retired dentist, Dr. Lorne MacLachlan offered to provide funds to our club to be used in the field of Medical Research and the Kiwanis Medical Foundation was formed. At that time, Dr. MacLachlan advised that, for every dollar our club raised, he would donate $4.00 to the Foundation to a maximum of $100,000 and this amount was reached in less than a year. Our Foundation continues to thrive to this day and we have provided thousands of dollars to many medical research projects during the past 13 years.
We sponsor 4 High School Key Clubs in the City which consist of a total of approximately 200 students.
As well, we sponsor the 211 Air Cadet Squadron which has a total of 125 Cadets who do their own fundraising in conjunction with our Club.
We are a large club - presently 250 members comprised of business and professional men and women; we are a vibrant and active club - we work hard and we play hard. We have a Board of Directors which consists of a President, a President-Elect, two Vice Presidents, a Treasurer, a Secretary and 9 Directors, all of whom are members of the Club.
We have 26 Committees which focus on a different purpose of our Club. Some of these include: Senior Citizens, , Music Festival, Spiritual Aims & International Affairs, Major Emphasis - Young Children Priority One, Public Relations.
We have turned over more than $2 Million to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario as a result of the Kiwanis Duck Race for Tiny Hearts held every year with the contribution to CHEO of at least $300,000 yearly. This is a joint effort with many other Kiwanis Clubs and we enjoy working together.
Our Kiwanis TV Auction celebrated its 33rd Annual TV Auction - a project which our members work on all year. Over 150 volunteers - Kiwanis members, Kiwaniannes and their families - worked hard for 13 hours to sell 500 items our members have solicited from donors. Their efforts helped raise funds to help those less fortunate in our city.
Our Lottery Calendar project, which we began in 1995, contributed $50,000 to the purchase of manikins for use in the mandatory CPR program for high school students in the Ottawa Carleton region. With approximately 6,000 students trained yearly, the CPR program will see every high school student trained in CPR by the year 2000. We continue to use all the funds raised to support our community. Our club wants to educate the youth of our communities - we feel the youth of our community benefit from the student bursaries we offer each year.
We also contribute to the education of students furthering their education in the clergy by offering theological bursaries through St. Paul's University. In 1996 we started a Hands-On Projects Committee which focusses on serving the community through the direct involvement of our Club members to build a stronger sense of comraderie, fellowship and achievement.
Projects include painting at St. Mary’s Home for young pregnant girls; rewiring, painting, new rugs at Haematology Lab waiting room at the Civic Hospital, building of a play structure for kids for Bellevue Community Association, budgeting seminar at the Youville Centre for young mothers, bowling tournament assistance to Special Olympics, yard work for Senior Citizens and many other areas where volunteers are needed.
We support hundreds of projects which are all important to us. These include travel assistance for medical needs, Christmas assistance, numerous summer camp contributions, medical assistance for the hearing impaired, special wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps, Child Find programs, Youth support groups, Operation Go Home and many other requests.
We are proud to belong to - what we call - the best service club in the world and the best Kiwanis Club in Canada! We are proud of our members - they are the ones who make it all come together.
We are a group of men and women who have come together to make a difference - and we will continue to carry on the Objects of Kiwanis International.